TEXARKANA, Ark. — The city Board of Directors on Monday approved a $44 million budget for 2020.
Proposed revenues and expenditures in the budget balance at $44,380,571 each. The vote was five to one, with Ward 1 Director Linda Teeters absent and Ward 2 Director Laney Harris voting no.
Saying he did not want to take anything away from any employee, Harris said he wanted more "fairness in the process" of deciding which city staffers receive certain benefits he does not, such as a cellphone allowance.
The budget represents progress and positive financial trends, City Manager Kenny Haskin said in a statement.
"When I look back to where we were financially a few years ago, we have come a long way to reach the city's current status.
"For the first time in over 30 years, we are positioned to invest in economic development and capital improvement projects without refinancing bonds or increasing taxes. We've dialed up a recipe that appears to be working.
"I credit great fiscal discipline by all involved over the past few years and most of all believing in the process. Working together, we have created a solid financial policy with an emphasis on controlling the debt, leveling our Bi-State cost (internally we refer to it as levelized billing), making modest cuts when necessary, and we are encouraged to see the trend of increased consumer spending," Haskin stated.
The budget anticipates increases of 2% in both property and sales tax revenue and a $4.2 million balance — equal to 73 days' expenditures — in the city's general fund. The city's fiscal policy recommends keeping at least 60 days' expenditures in the general fund at all times to avoid cash flow issues.
That end balance will be made possible by a total of $525,000 in cuts shared by all departments. Because of an overage as of the end of 2018, there will also be a decrease of more than $1 million in the city's contribution to running the Bi-State Justice Building.
A 0.5% cost of living adjustment is proposed for fire and police civil service personnel.
Other capital outlay from the general fund will include:
— $15,000 for a new camera in the City Hall board room;
— $50,000 for 10 complete camera systems for the Police Department;
— $150,000 for five new Police Department patrol cars;
— $30,000 for Fire Department staff vehicles;
— $100,000 for a new Fire Department brush truck;
— $286,000 for streets and drainage; and
— $229,000 for economic development.
In other news, the Board approved by consent reappointing Personnel Administrator Melissa Edwards and Assistant Public Works Director Tracie Lee to the Public Facilities Board.
The Board's next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 2.