Wednesday, March 28, 2012 | 5:15 p.m.
The Las Vegas City Council got some good news as it began the process Wednesday afternoon of building its budget for the upcoming 2013 fiscal year.
There won't be any city staff layoffs this year, and city employees won't be asked this year to take pay cuts, according to City Manager Betsy Fretwell.
"I’m very proud we’re in the spot that we’re in," Fretwell told the council at a special meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Although the budget is "relatively flat" and revenue will come up about $10.4 million short of expenditures, there's enough money in reserves to handle that, Fretwell said.
There will also be enough money in the city's reserves to pay off the downtown Neonopolis public garage — plus use about $25 million for several new "strategic capital projects" around town, Fretwell.
The council unanimously approved the tentative budget, the first step in a process that will last through May 15, when the city has its final budget hearing. The budget must be submitted to the state on June 1. The 2013 fiscal year begins in July.
Fretwell said if the city employees had not made concessions over the last several years and the city hadn't taken steps to contain costs, "we would be talking about cutting again."
She said the 2013 fiscal year budget focuses on public safety. It also focuses on making sure that existing infrastructure — such as city parks and buildings — is taken care of, she said.
And, she said, the budget also focuses on maintaining existing staff and trying to build back some of the services in a few areas that were cut over the last two to three years.
Candace Falder, the city's director of finance, said the tentative budget shows that revenue will be down about 0.4 percent from last year, dropping from $456.1 million to $454.2 million.
The main reason for the drop is that property tax revenue is expected to fall about $10 million from $95.2 million this year to $85.7 million next year. However, that drop could be less, depending on how many property tax appeals are granted, she said.
The loss in revenue from property taxes is being balanced out by the city's consolidated tax, or C-Tax, which includes sales taxes. C-Tax revenue is expected to climb about $10 million in 2013, to $229 million, she said.
General fund reserves are $132.4 million in 2013, or 28.7 percent of the total general fund, she said.
Reserves are required to be at least 12 percent of the general fund, so the council will have the opportunity to use some of that money to meet its priorities, she said.
Falder said there is enough in the reserves to use $13.5 million to pay off the the remaining seven years of debt on the Neonopolis garage early, thus saving $2.5 million in interest.
There is also $25 million built into the budget for new capital programs, which the council will decide upon during the next few months.