Sebastian covers $500,000 budget shortfall with reserves

SEBASTIAN — Sebastian city leaders approved dipping into its reserve fund to cover a $500,000 budget shortfall. The allocation drops the city’s reserve fund to about $5 million.

The city saw a decrease in funds from the state, which it had been banking on, according to City Manager Al Minner. Also, the city was hit with a series of unexpected expenses, which furthered the budget gap.

Among those expenses were increased unemployment compensation, contract mowing and insurance claims, along with increased police overtime charges and insurance.

Al Minner explained that while police overtime charges did exceed what the city had projected, it still remains less than in the past and continues in a downward trend.

As it was, the city incurred $36,000 in police overtime, according to Minner.

Sebastian resident Damien Gilliams addressed the council over the budget asking about police overtime.

Gilliams recommended that the city require civic groups to pay for police officers who provide security detail at community events, instead of having the city subsidize the overtime pay.

He added that many of the events raise money for the groups putting those events on – and the charitable organizations those groups assist. As such, the civic groups should be able to pay for the officers.

The Vero Beach Police Department has recently changed its policy regarding police coverage of community events. The Oceanside Business Association, which hosted the city’s annual Christmas parade was the first to be charged for having police officers handle crowds and traffic control.

The City of Sebastian also paid out an extra $88,000 in unexpected funds, in part for city garage landscaping and worker’s compensation, among other expenditures. The city also received about 5 percent less of its budgeted revenues.

“This shortfall was mostly the result of lower amounts received than budgeted for various state revenues and interest income,” wrote City Finance Director Ken Killgore in his report to the council.

He explained that the economic downturn contributed to the fewer funds coming from the state.

“We are beginning the 2010 fiscal year $211,652 short of the amount we expected to have in reserves,” Killgore also wrote.

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