Williston’s 2022 budget will rise slightly less than 4 percent from 2021 after the City Commission approved the budget Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Finance Director Hercules Cummings presented the budget to the Commission, explaining that the city’s budget provides funding for all city services, activities, and infrastructure investments for the fiscal year.
“The City Commissioners and the finance staff have held budget meetings in the month of August to review the proposed department budgets for 2022,” Cummings said. “The budget was developed through the collective input and collaboration of all departments with guidance from City Commission, Administration, and Finance with an understanding of the future needs and available resources, undergoing extraordinary review.”
After final budget deliberations, the total proposed expenditures for 2022 are $153,790,544, with the total proposed revenues of $125,863,905 and with levies totaling $5,406,307. The budget is nearly on par with the previous year, with 2021’s expenditures coming in at $147,910,958, with revenue of $129,559,283.
Cummings shared some key highlights from the 2022 budget:
The primary revenue sources for Williston are Gross Production Taxes ($22,000,000) and Sales Tax City Share ($8,000,000). The Public Safety Sales Tax comprises the City’s third largest revenue source of $7,500,000 followed by Real Property Sales Tax levies of $5,406,307.
The General Fund is primarily supported by property tax, state shared revenues, and service fees. To offset revenue contractions, the city will increase some of its service-related fees.
“Although we maintain an optimistic outlook, the city responded to an unpredictable and uncertain economy through conservative revenue figures, assuming both a steady and marginal growth rate in major revenues in addition to receipts tracking closer to a slower recovery scenario as we return to more normal levels.” Cummings told the Commission. “Our revenue forecast emphasizes on the relative strength of our Gross Production Tax which is sufficient to meet any fund replenishment needs.”
The largest expenditure items include USDA debt service payments, USDA minimum debt reserves, SRF debt service payments, infrastructure improvement and payroll of general fund accounts. Cummings stated the city’s budget and its management are flexible to withstand any inordinate and large unanticipated expenses.
“Over the last four or five years, I think the city has displayed its ability to scale back as necessary,” Cummings said. “We’re very very flexible.”
Cummings added he felt the city’s budget practices and fiscal responsibility positioned the city to overcome COVID imposed challenges, while substantially mitigating impacts to the taxpayers and without sacrificing core public service levels. He added that despite the residual severity and lingering impacts of COVID and the challenging market conditions in 2021, the proposed budget reflects the continued commitment by the city to build key development, preserve existing infrastructure, and invest in necessary capital improvements.
Those commitments, he said, will stimulate new economic growth, enhance quality of life, prioritize the anticipated needs arising from COVID, support community initiatives, and lead to long-term sustainability for the citizens of Williston.
Cummings said while the city recognizes that economic pressures may continue as the state emerges from the effects of a global health crisis, the city will continue to strategically focus on the following:
Identifying operational efficiencies
Source cost savings
Allocate revenues towards targeted growth areas and underfunded opportunities
Leverage land-use for revenue generation
Control costs and evaluate other potential budgeting balance options