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Town Staff Proposes 19 Budget Adjustments

As part of the annual mid-year budget review process Town of Herndon staff is requesting the mayor and Town Council approve 19 changes to the fiscal year 2004, in part due to the sudden purchase of property for the police station, as well as unforeseen factors such as the cold weather and the need for additional help.

The Town Council was slated to debate the merits of the changes at a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 27, however, due to the inclement weather, the meeting has been rescheduled for Feb. 10.

The proposed changes include several requests for funding, such as $18,500 for the town's anniversary celebration last weekend, the creation of a new program that promotes neighborhood initiatives at a cost of $10,000 and the conversion of two part-time employees to full-time status at a combined cost of $12,900.

In addition, the recommendations include deleting the funding for the final phase of the Herndon Community Center expansion and the new Neighborhood Resource Center from the FY '04 budget totals.

In all, the changes represent a $3.1 million net reduction of general funds revenues, said Mary Tuohy, director of finance.

AT A WORK SESSION Jan. 20, a couple of council members indicated some of the budget requests may be unneeded expenditures.

"Can we get more information on the new program? One paragraph is not enough to justify $10,000," said Councilman Dennis Husch. "As for the pat-time positions, they took those positions knowing they were part-time. ... Saying there is an inequity [between being classified part-time and working more than 30 hours] is a false argument."

The Cultivating Community Campaign, under the direction of the public information officer, would create an awareness campaign aimed at tying together various initiatives such as over-occupancy enforcement, property maintenance, trash and recycling and the neighborhood inspection program. It would include developing a logo, creating T-shirts, banners and other materials.

As for the two employee positions, Tuohy said one is currently classified as a temporary/seasonal position in the Information Technology department dedicated to the "help desk." She said the employee has assisted with the "help desk" and desktop support, installing new software and general office duties. The demand placed on that position has the employee working nearly 40-hours per week.

The other position, a bi-lingual community inspector assistant, too has had additional demands due to the general expansion of the zoning inspections program, said Tuohy.

Husch also questioned whether a cost-benefit analysis had been done for the replacement of the two engines — one for a 1992 backhoe and the other for a 1994 leaf machine. He also requested more information about a state forestry grant, which would pay for the purchase of GPS and Personal Digital Assistant hardware and software to be used to map and inventory the town's forestry. The town would pay the $5,750 needed for the equipment and would be reimbursed by the state Department of Forestry.

"It may be a zero-sum gain this year, but what about licensing fees, maintenance costs? ... I'd like to know more," Husch said.

Increasing fuel prices have caused the to face the possibility of not having enough money to cover the remaining five months.

HE ALSO questioned the wisdom of conducting two water-division studies, at a cost of $65,000 from the water and sewer fund that would create a water-tank-site master plan and a water-system hydraulic model.

"We shouldn't be inventing things just because we have the funds," Husch said.

Robert Boxer, director of public works, said the studies were "critical for everything we want to do with the water monitoring system."

Other requests include $238,000 worth of expenditures in the water and sewer fund for items such as overtime, the two studies, and sewer repairs. The funds for the items will come from retained earnings within the account.

The changes also include transferring $10,500 from the golf course maintenance facility capital project reserve account to pay for furniture for the new course maintenance facility.

One the plus side, Tuohy said staff is requesting the council approve increasing the revenue projections for the real estate taxes by $44,000; the consumer utility taxes by $74,500; and the transient lodging taxes by $47