BG full of money: income tax revenue rising, ‘rescue’ money is coming | New
Bowling Green’s revenue numbers continue to be higher than expected, and the city is developing a strategy on how US bailout funds could be spent.
The city council’s finance committee heard reports from the new chief financial officer, Dana Pinkert, who presented her first quarterly report on the city’s finances on Monday, and from Mayor Mike Aspacher.
“As it was last quarter, we’re up from our budgeted (income tax) estimate,” Pinkert said, “we’re even up over last year at this time. “
Since the start of the year, the city has collected almost $ 960,000 more in tax revenue than initially expected.
“But even if it’s more than expected, and more than the cash flow forecast, it really can’t be considered excess funds,” Pinkert said, “because the budget was passed with more consideration in mind. a million dollars in cash balances.… We don’t see it as a surplus or a windfall because we are always monitoring it.
The city’s general fund also looks rosy, up about $ 555,000 from expectations.
“It’s promising that it’s in place,” Pinkert said.
“The estimates have been budgeted for this year’s recovery, the second half, of COVID,” Pinkert said of the overall projections. “It looks like this is happening, but, again, a reminder that we are budgeted to use some of these reserves. So hopefully (revenue) will increase enough that we don’t have to use that much.
Speaking on the US bailout, she said the city has already received the first half of expected funds from the program, amounting to more than $ 3.6 million. The second half of the funds are expected in 2022.
“And we continue to receive advice and review advice from the US Treasury and other professional groups on permitted uses” for the funds, Pinkert said.
Aspacher also noted that the city continues to monitor regulations and interpretations on how the funds can be used. He said he had established guiding principles the city would consider for spending the funds, including that they would be used for one-time purposes, and not for creating programs that themselves would create ongoing spending flows, in order to ” avoid duplicating elements already in place from other political entities and subdivisions, and maximize community impact.
“We take responsibility very seriously with the spending of these funds,” Aspacher said. “We recognize that we need to be responsible and accountable for our decisions. He also noted that the current schedule allows for several years to spend ARP funds – current guidelines state that the funds must be committed by 2024 and should be used by the end of 2026.
Aspacher also discussed four areas he previously described as preliminary categories to guide ideas on how the money might be spent.
The first was neighborhood development and community assistance, which he said the city had explored extensively over the past decade. He said ARP funds could potentially be used to improve existing programs and explore other opportunities to develop neighborhoods and improve housing stock, as well as residential paving.
Regarding livability / accessibility and enrichment, Aspacher discussed potential initiatives including a multi-use trail to connect the community center, Cogan’s Crossing and high school; enlarged sidewalk replacement; investments in the city’s park network; the creation of a pedestrian path around City Park and a fully adapted and accessible play area in Carter Park; and complete the elements of the streets. Other possibilities include public toilets in the city center and ways to expand green initiatives.
On job creation and economic development, Aspacher discussed the possibility of expanding the city’s ability to attract well-paying jobs by investing in existing infrastructure in current business parks and seeking opportunities for help local businesses.
Regarding the financial stability of the city, he said that one of the main objectives of the ARP is to recover lost income due to the pandemic. He said that although the revenue was higher than expected, the city was nonetheless affected by the reduction in income tax revenue and the ARP is focused on the economic stability of governments.
Aspacher said the city plans to use the remainder of this year to study ARP regulations and plan spending. In 2022, he said, they expect to see some of the implementation of the projects that would be developed and to continue to create other plans to be implemented in the following years.
“These are foreplay,” Aspacher said. “These are preliminary concerns. We continue to listen to constituents, we look forward to the opportunity to discuss options with City Council. But it’s an ongoing process. The direction continues to change and we take responsibility very seriously.
The chairman of the finance committee, Greg Robinette, said he was encouraged by the mayor’s list. “It seems like a reasonable approach right now,” he said.
Committee member Bill Herald, responding to Aspacher’s discussion, noted that among the main concerns he hears from his constituents are streets and sidewalks. Committee member Sandy Rowland noted that as a real estate agent she hears that families looking for homes are looking for livability, accessibility and enrichment.