Simpsonville will add a 5th police officer in July

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That’s only increase in proposed 2013-14 budget

By Steve Doyle

The Simpsonville City Commission gave initial approval Wednesday to adding a fifth full-time police officer starting in July.

Commissioners passed on first reading the city’s budget for the next fiscal year, and the only increase in the general fund was an additional $68,000 – over this year’s $1 million budget – to accommodate the cost of hiring and outfitting of an officer.

In presenting the budget, City Administrator David Eaton noted that this was the only increase and that the plan for the additional officer had been developed by former Police Commissioner Scott McDowell and Police Chief Chip Minnis, who attended the meeting.

The salary for the position will be about $30,000, Eaton said, but the additional expense is to purchase a vehicle for that officer, a departure from the past.

“We’ve decided to go ahead and pay cash rather than finance through the bank,” he said. “Previously, we had spread that cost out over three years, but we decided to go ahead and buy it now.”

He said that Minnis would apply for a grant to equip the vehicle, which the city has done in past years. The grant amount of $15,000 was included in the budget.

The city did not budget any new revenue or expense related to the outlet malls that have been approved to be built on the city’s south side. Officials of Horizon Group Properties, whose final plans for the Outlet Shoppes of Louisville were approved on Tuesday night, have said they would break ground this year and open in the late summer of 2014, which would push the greatest part of any potential revenue into the 2014-15 budget.

“Until I see dirt turned, I’m not going to count on anything,” Eaton said. “If I don’t see it in hand, I don’t include in the budget.”

Eaton did say there could be some additional revenue from occupational taxes relative to the construction process.

“If that happens, then the commissioners get some money for additional projects, if they want,” he said.

Other than the police officer, the new budget – which includes breakouts for general fund, road fund, parks and sewer – is consistent with the current budget and balances in all four categories:

  • There are base carryovers of $600,000 in the general fund, $40,000 in the roads, $10,000 in parks and $525,000 in sewers, meaning the city has about $1.175 million in the bank.
  • The parks budget is 13.4 percent less (down to $139,300 from $160,800) largely because of a $38,200 decrease in parks operations expenses. “We’re trying to get that budget to where it reflects more consistently,” said Chris Truelock, the city’s first full-time parks director who took over in 2012. “We’re still in the learning process because we’re sort of babies in the city budget. My hope is to lock that budget soon. We feel real good about our amenities and equipment, and we won’t be spending as much next year on that.”
  • Increases in other categories are 6.8 percent in the general fund, 3 percent in roads and 1.5 percent in sewers.
  • There are small revenue increases expected in property taxes, sewer tap-on fees – “The equivalent of three new houses coming on line,” Eaton said – occupational licenses and other smaller categories.
  • Grant funding of $225,000 is included, the majority for the ongoing downtown sidewalk project, about $6,000 from Kentucky League of Cities and the police equipment grant.

“I think they’ve done a good job of putting this together,” Finance Commissioner Cary Vowels said. “They’ve done a good job the past few years of keeping track of things and planning.”