During a special-called teleconference meeting Thursday, the Bowling Green City Commission approved a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget keeps taxes at their current level but reduces spending as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic spreads to municipal budgets.
The economic slowdown means an estimated revenue decline for the coming year of about $12 million less than the current fiscal year, from $122.1 million to $110.3 million in FY 2021. City spending is likewise budgeted to decrease from $124.6 million to $114.2 million.
The budget was approved on a first reading Tuesday.
City Manager Jeff Meisel, the city’s former chief financial officer, said it was “the hardest budget ever. You know where you want to go, but you don’t know how to get there.”
The brief special meeting Thursday allowed the city to pass a budget before the next fiscal year starts July 1.
Spending cuts from previous years include about a 50 percent reduction on things such as sidewalk building, road paving and stormwater management.
City officials noted that the revenue projections could change and the budget can be adjusted.
“We feel this is a good starting point,” Meisel said Tuesday.
Despite the loss of occupational tax revenue – from $50 million to $44 million – the city’s overall budget hit was not as dire as it could have been as property tax revenue is expected to increase about 8 percent, from $16.3 million to $17.7 million, as the city continues to grow.
The city has not furloughed any employees because of the economic slowdown, but the budget calls for merit raises to be suspended for the coming year, along with cuts in travel for city staff and not filling some part-time positions. Eligible city employees will, however, get a 2.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment.