Evidence that the city of Bowling Green’s economy is humming along at a healthy pace, despite the lingering coronavirus pandemic, is contained within the city’s proposed 2022 Fiscal Year budget.
After passing an austere city budget last year, the city is now looking at a budget that increases spending, thanks to increased revenue projections. City officials also plan to keep tax rates at their current level.
City Manager Jeff Meisel noted that while the city cut spending in last year’s budget, crafted among the uncertainty created by the pandemic, the city is now “in a good position,” he said.
“We were pretty conservative not knowing what would happen” last year, he said.
The proposed Fiscal Year 2022 annual operating budget was presented at Tuesday’s city commission meeting, with votes on the budget expected at the June city commission meetings.
Despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic that has slowed business, and thus some revenue flowing to city coffers, the proposed budget forecasts increased revenue in the coming fiscal year.
The 2021 Fiscal Year adopted budget saw revenues of $110,342,427. The recommend 2022 FY budget sees revenue at $122,340,267 – a 10.9% increase.
Some revenue categories are expected to take a hit, such as licenses and permits, but those losses are expected to be offset by continued job growth in the city.
The budget forecasts the city’s biggest revenue stream – occupational taxes – to increase from $47,266,500 to $54,356,750 – a 15% increase.
That’s allowing for proposed increased spending for 2022 – $75.6 million, up from last year’s $66.9 million.
“We are still seeing strong and steady property tax growth,” Meisel said, and “occupational taxes are starting to turn around as people are going back to work.”
As in the past, much of the city spending will go to capital improvement projects.
•$1 million for phase III of downtown improvements;
•$1 million for Riverfront Park development along the Barren River;
•$944,717 for the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Program for projects in the area from downtown to the Barren River.
•$1.5 million for street resurfacing;
•$750,000 for an Ashley Circle widening/improvement project;
•More than $3million for other road projects;
•$600,000 for sidewalk improvements;
•$400,000 for greenways expansions;
•$500,000 for stormwater mitigation;
•$2.5 million for various facilities and equipment upgrades.
In all, the city expects to spend about $800,000 more on capital improvement projects this year than last.
The budget also calls for a 1.4% cost of living raise for city workers. Those workers are becoming harder to find – “We are struggling to compete,” with private employers, Meisel said.
As a result, the budget calls for raising the city’s lowest pay grades. Workers in those grades had been making less than $30,000 for some full-time positions, but the proposed budget calls for increasing the lowest salary tiers so that all full-time employees would be making at least $30,000.
– Follow Managing Editor Wes Swietek on Twitter @WesSwietek or visit bgdailynews.com.