HYATTSVILLE — Hyattsville’s spending continues to rise as the proposal Fiscal Year 2019 budget hits the council’s desk. This year, the city is proposing a $31 million budget – a roughly $1.5 million increase over this fiscal year.
“The total operating budget, which includes all funds is projected to be $30.375 million. The general fund budget is $19.3 million and the capital improvement projects is $8.6 million,” said Tracey Nicholson, the city administrator. “The proposal that you have in front of you includes the city council’s priorities for funding, both new and sustaining ongoing programs and services to support not only residents but neighborhoods, infrastructure, economic development, smart and green technology, public safety and the environment.”
The Hyattsville City Council sat for a presentation of the proposed budget on March 28, where a majority of the city’s department heads spoke about the successes of their departments and their needs for the upcoming fiscal year. Budgets are up for departments across the board with changes in proposed staff sizes and several large projects on the horizon for the city.
Although the budget is increasing by $1.5 million, city revenues are not rising to meet the spending. The city treasurer predicts revenues for the municipality will likely sit at $30.3 million. Still, revenues across the board are expected to increase with the exception of personal property taxes, which are estimated to fall below projections for the fiscal year of 2018.
The city is, once again, proposing to not increase the real property tax rate, leaving it at 63 cents of every $100 of assessed value.
The unreserved fund balance will be roughly $13.2 million.
Nicholson said there are several notable items included in this year’s budget including employee salary and benefit increase, several project staff increases, funds for several capital improvements projects like park renovations and the police department retrofit at 3505 Hamilton Street, and funds for investment in multi-model transit.
“We want to continue fostering a pedestrian-oriented, walkable and sustainable community,” Nicholson said. “The ongoing transportation management, we expect will produce a recommendation, so we have proved some funding for recommendations.”
In addition, each department head talked in detail about where their proposed money would be spent. Some major costs highlighted by the presentation included $3.5 million for the department of public works headquarters renovation and $10 million for the police station. Outside of the capital improvements budget, the majority of funding will be going toward employee salaries and benefits, community programming, health and wellness programs, $25,000 for senior citizen programming and $25,000 for a corridor development program.
In the mayor and city council budget, increases are allotted for the mayor and council as well as increased funds for training and meetings such as the Maryland Municipal League conferences and additional ward discretionary funds. The total budget for the mayor will rise by 9 percent if approved, or a total of $2,000. The council budget is scheduled to rise by a little more than $12,000 or roughly 10.9 percent.
The city administrator’s office is set to gain one part-time position as well as additional funding for travel and training. In total, the budget for the office will rise by 2.5 percent or $11,266 with the largest increase salary and over time pay. Legal services are also expected to increase in the coming fiscal year with a boost of $30,000 additional.
“Hopefully we will not have to spend that much, but we did put that in the budget so that we’re able to pay for the services that we’re going to need for the upcoming year,” Nicholson said.
The finance department’s budget is proposed to increase by a little more than 7 percent but is hoping to save the city money in overtime costs and travel expenses by bringing more people onto the budget and finance team. That roughly shakes out to a $26,000 increase in salary but a $1,500 and $985 decrease in overtime and travel, respectively. The entire finance budget is proposed at roughly $48,000.
A 7 percent increase in on the board for the city clerk’s office as well as the office looks to keep working on citywide record management and asks for a “minimal increase” in training funds. The total proposed budget is $226,634.
While the swell in the budget for the city clerk’s office was minimal, the board of elections is looking at a 567 percent increase. The large raise in total cost is due to the board needing to meet the guidelines for the upcoming 2019 citywide election, which will see the rollout of the city’s new same-day voter registration program. Each election year always sees an increase in budget, said City Clerk Laura Ream, who noted the proposed 1,732 percent increase in contracted services – roughly $43,000.
“You’ll see a slight increase over the fiscal year 2017, which was our last election year, but the increase is primarily related to our implementation of same-day voter registration,” Reams said. “Otherwise we’re pretty much in line regarding all the other categories.”
Human Resources will see only a 1.8 percent increase as several decreases in their budget even out with the slight increases. On the other hand, the city’s information technology budget will increase by 40 percent, or $117,000. The large increase is due in part to several upgrades the city is perusing as well as professional services the city will seek to “have an operation facility,” said Assistant City Administrator Jim Chandler.
The budgets in some of Chandler’s other departments, community development, geographic information service and code compliance are proposed to rise by $15,698, $2,845 and $65,094, respectively. Parking compliance is slotted to gain an additional $24,229 for its fiscal year 2019 budget while community development will see a 5 percent increase, which is roughly an additional $15,600.
Several facets of the department of public works budget will increase with the administration section increasing by $71,529 to fund an additional position and other costs, the highway street operation budget increasing by $56,268 to help pay for the traffic study recommendations, and sanitation increasing $109,087, which department head Lesley Riddle said is a “pretty standard fluctuation.”
While several departments were at the March 28 meeting, the police department and community services department was not in attendance and will present their budget to the council in mid-April.
Budget discussions will continue through the next several months before the council makes a final decision before June 30.