Faced with an unexpected $1.8 million budget shortfall, Camp Verde has been taking drastic measures to make sure there’s enough to make ends meet for the rest of the fiscal year.
Soon after Town Manager Michael Scannell came on the job last October, he discovered that the town’s financial controls and procedures were in trouble.
Due to a budget process for the current fiscal year, Scannell called “shoddy and incomplete,” he found that a good portion of the town’s money wasn’t where it should have been.
Scannell, with the blessing of the Town Council, implemented emergency measures to make sure Camp Verde’s budget stays in the black.
Scannell’s efforts aren’t helped by the state of the economy.
Projected loss of income from sales tax revenue was predicted to be around $360,000 less than expected when this year’s budget was drafted. After looking at the latest numbers, losses are expected to be more in the neighborhood of $470,000, said Lisa Elliott, with the town’s finance department.
Revenues from building permits and check fees are still down as predicted, Elliott said.
Fortunately for the town, Elliott said that town employees have done an excellent job of reigning in expenses. An early look at what the town’s departments were spending predicted that employees could cut speeding by $300,000 for the rest of the fiscal year to help close the budget gap; Elliot said that number will be closer to $400,000.
In order to keep spending down, the finance department is requesting that any expenditure of more than $1,000 will have to be reviewed by the town manager for approval, Elliott said.
The town is also putting a freeze on hiring any new employees unless absolutely necessary, Scannell said, adding that towns across the state were suffering from similar ill economic effects.
“We’re a sales tax-driven city; we have no property taxes,” Scannell said. “We rise and fall on the performance of the economy …. We only want to do what we have to do to keep the system running.”
Scannell and the finance department are also in the process of developing new budgeting procedures for the Town Council for upcoming financial planning for the 2008-09 fiscal year.