Covington City Council passes 2010 capital and operating budget

The Covington City Council unanimously approved the 2010 operating and capital budget.

The total projected budget for the city is about $23 million.

The city did not raise taxes to balance the columns, but during 2009 there were a total of nine layoffs with four others reduced to half time and one vacant position was eliminated.

The layoffs came in the Community Development and Public Works departments.

City Manager Derek Matheson said a reduction in permit revenue put a large hole in the budget. During 2007, the average permit revenue for the city was $185,000 per month and the low month this year was $15,000.

Another hit to the budget was the real estate excise tax or REET funds, which was about $1 million in 2007 and this year it came in at $300,000.

Matheson noted the REET funds are pledged to pay back bonds taken out for various transportation projects completed around the city.

Matheson said the city had been “staffed up for an increased level of development activity” and the city had increased staff for transportation projects over the last three years, including the 168th-165th road across from City Hall, the Wax Road roundabout and the roundabout on 256th Street near Kentwood High.

With these projects completed and a drop in development across the city since the recession, the city was forced to lay off the staff members connected to these projects.

After passing the budget, Councilman Mark Lanza said, “This was probably one of the toughest budgets, but it was also one of the easiest because there were so few choices.”

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