Henderson expenses outpace revenues in tentative budget

The city of Henderson continues to tap its reserves as expenses outpace revenues, according to a tentative budget filed with the state Tuesday.

The city’s projected overall revenue from all funds is $427.1 million for fiscal year 2015. However, its total budgeted expenditures is $482.8 million.

The new budget comes as the city is holding a series of community meetings discussing possible budget cuts to services to help bridge what the city says is an $17 million annual operational budget deficit.

General fund revenues, including transfers, are projected to be $226 million, a 3.7 percent increase from fiscal year 2014. Total general fund expenditures including transfers are expected to be $225.5 million, a 3.8 percent increase over the previous year. Approximately 55 percent of the general fund budget is for public safety, including police and fire.

The city’s general fund ending balance is projected to be $18.4 million, 8.3 percent of fund’s budgeted revenues.

Employee salary and benefits make up 82.4 percent of the projected general fund budget at $185.9 million, and increase from $179 million. Public safety, which does not receive cost-of-living raises but still receives merit increases, saw pay and benefits increase $3.2 million.

An additional $13.3 million in additional general government salary and benefits are projected to be paid out of other funds, including fuel and sales taxes.

Fred Horvath, assistant city manager in charge of human resource, told a community gathering Thursday at the Valley View Recreation Center that salaries and benefits used to make up closer to 70 percent of the budget, but cuts to services during the past few years have increased the percentage.

The general fund is financed by property taxes, consolidated tax distribution, city charges for services, franchise fees, and other city charges. Property taxes, which increased 1.9 percent to $56.7 million, accounts for 25 percent of the general fund revenue.

City staff is reviewing a Special Budget Ad Hoc Committee report from February recommending the city try to raise its residential property tax 20 cents per $100 of assessed value to increase city revenue. Henderson’s property tax rate of 71 cents per $100 of assessed valuation is 35 cents lower than Las Vegas and 45 cents lower than North Las Vegas.

The City Council will receive staff’s recommendations at its May 6 meeting. Any increase greater than 3 cents would require approval by the voters due to a state law capping property tax increases.

Henderson anticipates paying $29.1 million the next fiscal year against its current $258.4 million in debt obligations mostly tied up in various bonds.

Unanticipated expenditures from the city’s special assessment district fund drove down Henderson’s projected ending balance for all its governmental funds. The fiscal 2015 projected ending balance, including the general fund, is $132.2 million, a sharp decrease from the $193.9 million ending balance projected last year. The unanticipated city infrastructure costs were due to the return of construction to areas such as Lake Las Vegas and Inspirada residential communities.

The final budget will be presented to the City Council on May 20.

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knighty at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3882. Find on Twitter: @KnightlyGrind.