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Sterling City Council approves deficit budget

STERLING – The council passed a budget for fiscal year 2013-14 Monday that appears to leave the city $2.1 million in the hole. That's a bit deceptive, though.

Revenues are projected to be $29.4 million, while expenses are projected to be $31.5 million.

"The good news is, it's not all bad this year," City Manager Scott Shumard said. Most of the city's 28 funds are balanced.

The fund to renovate the Coliseums shows a $1.8 million deficit because the city got the money for the project in 2010, but did most of the spending in 2012 and 2013.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program shows a deficit because the city is using proceeds from the sale of homes to buy other homes.

And the capital fund shows a deficit because of the loan the city gave to the Greater Sterling Development Corp. to buy and fix up the downtown theater, money that will be paid back once it's up and running.

The general fund, the biggest part of the city's budget, is balanced.

Also on the plus side, sales tax income grew more than expected. Shumard originally projected 1.25 percent growth; the city ended up with 2 percent growth, he said.

The city also passed a tax levy increase this year, he noted.

"All that property tax is going into the police and fire pension funds," Shumard said. "Those two funds had a 23 percent increase in what we were levying for them. That's where the property tax increases are coming from."

Also Monday night, the council agreed to extend the contract of Rock Falls Deputy Fire Chief Gary Cook as fire chief in Sterling. Under the new contract, set to expire April 30, 2014, Sterling will pay Rock Falls $3,887 a month for Cook's service.

That's 2 percent more than this year's payment.

In other action

Also Monday, the council:

– Agreed to give all non-represented full-time employees a 1.25 percent raise, and employees not c covered by contracts a 1.5 percent raise, which will cost the city $42,819.

– Announced the sale of two additional homes in its Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The city sold a single-family house at 1507 16th Ave. for $65,000 and a single-family house at 411 16th Ave. for $62,500. The city also bought a single-family home at 1109 Ave. J that it will rehabilitate.

– Increased by 25 cents the solid waste collection fee for residents, a result of Allied Waste upping what it charges the city.

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