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2004 Budget Highlights

BOBBY SIMPSON
MAYOR-PRESIDENT

2004 METROPOLITAN COUNCIL MEMBERS

Ulysses Z. Addison, Jr.
James T. "Jim" Benham
David J. Boneno
Lorri Burgess
Wayne Carter
Pat Culbertson
Joseph "Joe" Greco
Charles Kelly
Darrell P. Ourso
Byron Sharper
Martha J. Tassin
J. Michael "Mike" Walker


January 1, 2004

Dear Citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish:

Following is a brief summary of selected highlights from operating budgets for the year 2004.

The legal framework for financial management of the City of Baton Rouge and Parish of East Baton Rouge (City-Parish) is largely established in a Plan of Government approved by local voters in 1947. That plan requires the adoption of annual operating budgets for various governmental functions. In accordance with this plan, the local government in December 2003 adopted annual operating budgets for the year 2004. At that time, a $224 million general operations budget was approved, along with a number of budgets for special operations, for a grand total of $549 million. All of the annual budgets referred to above are published in a document entitled 2004 Annual Operating Budget, which is available for review by the public at parish libraries or the City-Parish Finance Department Budgeting Division, located at 222 St. Louis Street, Room 452 (phone 389-3067). 

The City-Parish has separate budget processes for some state and federal grant programs, as well as for capital improvement programs such as street construction and public building construction. A summary of recurring grant programs and capital improvement programs is included in the 2004 Annual Operating Budget.

THE BUDGET PROCESS

Allocation of revenues is determined through the budget process. This process begins with the presentation by the Mayor-President (Mayor) of his goals and objectives for the City-Parish.  Departments then determine their own goals, which should fit into those of the City-Parish as a whole, and submit their budget requests to the Mayor.  The Mayor reviews these requests with his staff, department personnel, and a representative of the Metropolitan Council (Council).  After considering the needs of the community, established policies, current financial conditions, and the forecasted economy, the Mayor formally proposes operating budgets to the Council for all operations that require such budgets. The Council then considers the Mayor's proposals, holds public hearings, and enacts final budgets, which may be different from those proposed by the Mayor.  These adopted annual budgets become effective on January 1.

Responsibility for the administration of the annual operating budget is shared by the Mayor, through the Chief Administrative Officer, the Finance Director, and the staff of the Finance Department-Budgeting Division; and the Metropolitan Council, through the Council Administrator-Treasurer and the Council Budget Officer.

GENERAL OPERATIONS (GENERAL FUND)

As shown in the chart below, the 2004 budget for general operations, amounting to $224 million, is financed primarily through sales, property, and public utility taxes:

SOURCE OF FUNDS

Source of Funds Pie Graph Image (Sales & Use Tax: 52.4%, Property Tax: 7.9%, Other Taxes: 6.5%, Other Sources: 15.6%, Charges for Services: 8.4%, Public Utility Tax: 9.2%)

The following chart shows the functions for which general operations money will be spent in 2004:

USE OF FUNDS

Use of Funds Pie Chart Image (Public Safety: 46.8%, Transportation: 9.5%, Sanitation: 6.3%, General Government: 28.1%, Other: 2.2%, Interfund Transfers: 7.1%)

SPECIAL OPERATIONS (SPECIAL FUNDS)

About 43% of the spending authorized in the annual operating budgets relates to the budget for general operations discussed in the preceding section. The remaining authorized spending pertains to the smaller budgets for special operations or activities. The most common reason for having separate budgets for these activities is that the revenues supporting them are legally dedicated to a specific purpose. Programs funded through these special budgets include:

  • Fire Protection for Rural Areas 
  • Pay Enhancements for City Firefighters
  • Downtown Development District
  • Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control
  • Operation of the Library System
  • Street Maintenance Programs
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • EBR Parish Communications District
  • Garbage Service for Rural Areas
  • Road Lighting for Rural Areas
  • Animal Control Center
  • Operation of the Riverside Centroplex and Parking Facilities
  • Repayment of Long-Term Debt
  • Mass Transit Service
  • Operation of Sewerage Systems
  • Operation of the Sanitary Landfill
  • Operation of the Local Airport
  • Support for the City Constable
  • Provision of Social Services
  • Employment Training and Opportunities
  • Community and Economic Development
  • Gaming Enforcement Services
  • Equipment Repair and Maintenance
  • Equipment Replacement for Public Works
  • Employees' Retirement Funds

2004 FUNDING HIGHLIGHTS

Among the more noteworthy features of the 2004 budgets are the following:

  • In 2003, the City-Parish commissioned a study to review employee pay and to recommend revisions that would achieve internal equity, as well as make its salaries more competitive with those offered elsewhere.  The 2004 General Fund budget has set aside $4 million - from recurring revenue sources and projected savings from health insurance - for pay adjustments, and implementation is scheduled to begin in April.
     

  • Collections of sales taxes, the largest single source of revenue for the General Fund, increased during 2003, and estimated revenues for 2004 include 2% growth above 2003 projected collections.
     

  • In order to contain the rising cost of the employee health insurance program, several changes were made in 2004. An HMO plan is now offered in addition to the existing point-of-service plan; and it is hoped that this, along with other modifications, will help to keep costs manageable.

  • On March 14, 2002, the City-Parish signed a Consent Decree with the federal EPA and state DEQ. The Consent Decree committed the City-Parish to spend approximately $618 million over 13 years to minimize sanitary sewer overflows. Four Supplemental Environmental Projects will also be constructed as part of the Consent Decree. These projects will redirect septic tank discharges from neighborhood waterways into new sewer lines where the effluent will be treated at a sewer treatment plant. The 2004 budget is consistent with the long-range funding model for the sewer program.
     

  • In late 2003, the Council approved a new five-year master plan for the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport.  Once the projects in this plan have received federal approval, funding will be provided by the FAA and the state.  Other projects at the Airport include a $22.5 million runway rehabilitation, construction of a new cargo building, soundproofing under the noise reduction program, construction of an additional parking garage, and expansion of the security checkpoint area.

  • Work continues on various projects for the redevelopment of downtown Baton Rouge. The new planetarium and space theater opened in 2003, and construction continues on the Shaw Center for the Arts and the expansion of the Riverside Centroplex.  Funding for these projects comes from both state and local sources.

CONCLUSION

The high quality of our budget is evidenced by our receipt of the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award of the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for our budgets for each year from 1991 through 2003. This is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting, and we hope to win this honor again in 2004. In addition, we were awarded the Louisiana GFOA Outstanding Budget Award eight times in the nine years that it was offered.

I would sincerely appreciate any comments from the citizens of our community relative to the budget. All citizens are invited to attend the budget hearings held in November and December of each year. Anyone interested in attending should contact the Finance Department, Budgeting Division, at 389-3067 or the Council Budget Office at 389-3051 in early November of each year to obtain the schedule.

Sincerely yours,

Bobby Simpson
Mayor-President

 

QUICK REFERENCE PHONE NUMBERS

City-Parish Operator (Information) 389-3000

Alcoholic Beverage Control Board

389-3364

Airport

355-0333

Animal Control Center

774-7700

Centroplex Box Office

389-4940

Citizens Service–Complaints

389-3090

City Constable

389-3004

City Court

389-5279

Communications District

389-2911

Community Development

389-3039

Coroner

389-3047

Council Administrator – Treasurer

389-3123

Council Budget Officer

389-3051

District Attorney

389-3400

District Court

389-4700

Downtown Development District

389-5520

Emergency Medical Services

389-5155

Emergency Preparedness

389-2100

Family Court

389-4680

Finance Department

389-3061

Fire Department

354-1400

Human Development and Services

358-4583

Human Resources (Personnel)

389-3141

Information Services

389-3070

Juvenile Court

354-1250

Juvenile Services

356-4471

Library – Main Branch

231-3700

Mayor-President's Office

389-3100

Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control

356-3297

Parish Attorney

389-3114

Planning Commission

389-3144

Police Department

389-3800

Public Information Office

389-3121

Public Works Department

389-3158

Purchasing

389-3259

Recycling

389-5194

Registrar of Voters

389-3940

Service Fee Business Office (Solid Waste/Sewer Bills)

389-5378

Training & Employee Development

389-5037