Superior reviews possible budget options

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By Chase Kamp

Superior Sun

The Superior Town Council held two work sessions in May with its financial consultant to create a plan of action to address its projected FY 2012-13 budget shortfall of $4 million. The amount primarily consists of inter-fund loan debt from the County and the state Highway User Revenue Fund, but Town expenditures have also annually exceeded revenues partly due to lower state shared funds and tax revenue.

Among the aims of the ongoing budget talks are to prepare a five-year forecast and reach a council consensus on three general fund scenarios for the town to consider, said Pat Walker of Walker Consulting, who was hired by Resolution Copper Company to assist the council through the budget process.

As of the 2010 audit, the town owed about $1.5 million to HURF and more than $900,000 to the Pinal County excise tax fund.

Walker insisted that decisions needed to be made quickly to offset the growing debt, as it is currently operating at a deficit. The town is projected to have a year-end expense overage of about $380,000.

Walker reviewed the financial reality of a proposed intergovernmental agreement with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office to take on police service in the town and shuttering the municipal police department. If signed, Walker’s data showed the agreement would be a net cost savings to the town for the first two years, then a net loss for the next two.

Projected police department costs for FY 2014 were around $769,000 while PCSO and dispatch services would be a little more than $715,000, for a savings of around $54,000 for the town. The savings amount would increase slightly the year after due to anticipated rising costs for continued police service.

However, the proposed PCSO deal would up the cost of police and dispatch services to more than $820,000 in its third year and thereafter. This would come at a projected cost of about $20,000 for the town in FY 2016 and $4,345 in FY 2017.

Some possible scenarios Walker presented for added revenue included charging for ambulance refusals, reviewing primary property tax use restrictions and additional sales tax.

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