La Plata Town Coun­cil re­quests bud­get up­dates

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

The bud­get process can be long and stren­u­ous when it comes to run­ning a town. There­fore, the La Plata Town Coun­cil has re­quested that the town’s fi­nance de­part­ment give them a quar­terly bud­get re- port to bet­ter track fi­nan­cial items in this year’s bud­get.

At the La Plata Town Coun­cil work ses­sion on Nov. 15, the coun­cil dis- cussed plans to be­gin re­ceiv­ing the quar­terly bud­get re­port with Town Trea­surer Robert Oliphant.

“When we do put the bud­get to­gether ev­ery year, we as a coun­cil would like to know how we are track­ing with that in­forma- tion through­out the year,” said Mayor Roy G. Hale.

“The coun­cil had ex- pressed in­ter­est in hav­ing some more dis­cus­sion about the bud­get in re- gards to a quar­terly bud­get re­port,” said Town Man- ager Daniel Mears. “We men­tion it each year as we go through the bud­get that the fi­nance sys­tem that Bob [Oliphant] has put into place and the data that we’ve now got­ten af­ter hav­ing many years of hav- ing these pur­chases and hav­ing to al­lo­cate costs, we are able to see very well where the dol­lars are go­ing. Things are run­ning very smoothly in the fi- nance realm.”

Oliphant said with this be­ing the first time that he’s dis­cussing the coun- cil’s in­ter­est of hav­ing a quar­terly bud­get re­port, he wanted to give the coun- cil an over­view and up­date of the town’s cur­rent bud- get. He ex­plained that the bud­get has re­mained the same, also in­quir­ing about any other in­for­ma­tion the coun­cil would like in de­tail in re­gards to the new quar- terly bud­get re­port.

“When we get into the yearly bud­get dis­cus­sion we re­ally are at seven months of data for the most part,” Oliphant said. “We give you all a re­port ev­ery month, a relatively high level of in­for­ma­tion, but it doesn’t give you a whole lot of de­tailed ex­pla­na­tion. It doesn’t tell you much of where we are rel­a­tive to other time pe­ri­ods or other seg­ments. It’s just a snapshot with no com­par­a­tive.”

Coun­cil­man Keith Back agreed.

“The monthly re­port does not go down ev­ery line item but if there is less money this year as op­posed to last year, it would be nice to know that be­fore we go to see it at the end of the year for the bud­get meet­ing,” Back said. “Tell us what the plans are so we can track that. We don’t need to go through all of them, but just any­thing that is ma­jor. If that al­le­vi­ates some of the ques­tions and dis­cus­sions, it might make the bud­get process go a lot smoother.”

Coun­cil­man Lynn Gil­roy said he would like to know specif­i­cally about changes in the deficit, the sta­tus of ex­pen­di­tures and funds that are re­quested, and how ap­pro­pri­at­ing funds will change the bud­get.

Oliphant ex­plained to the coun­cil that much of the bud­get re­port in­for­ma­tion they re­quested does not come in un­til cer­tain times through­out the year, with sev­eral to be de­ter­mined in the com­ing months. He also dis­cussed the town’s loans, town ac­counts, re­tire­ment fund, etc., and said if there are ever any is­sues, the fi­nan­cial de­part­ment will make sure the coun­cil is made aware sooner.

“We have an es­ti­mated $15,500,000 in the bank and we had that in the bank last year, and I think that’s pretty good con­sid­er­ing that we’ve paid off the $1.2 mil­lion owed to the state last year,” Oliphant said. “We’ve kept the cash bal­ances up. Cash flow is good. This year we bought three po­lice ve­hi­cles, we have a ma­jor in­vest­ment go­ing into Wills Me­mo­rial Park, and the southwest quad­rant so there are some large dol­lar ex­pense there. I have done the anal­y­sis and the ex­penses and ex­pen­di­tures were very con­sis­tent.”

The La Plata Town Coun­cil will hold its monthly busi­ness meet­ing next week Nov. 22. All res­i­dents may at­tend.

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