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White Hall city finances faring well, treasurer says

White Hall’s finances are in better shape than those of its municipal neighbors, according to information obtained from City Clerk/Treasurer Ellen Welch.

Both Pine Bluff and Redfield have cited financial shortfalls recently.

“We need money from everywhere,” Pine Bluff Finance Director Steve Miller told a recent City Council Ways and Means Committee, adding that his city faces a 2013 municipal revenue shortfall between $391,000 and $692,000.

At Redfield, Mayor Tony Lawhon told the city’s aldermen last week that the municipality’s $650,000 annual budget is under pressure from lower-than-anticipated revenues, requiring officials to dip into reserves to meet the city payroll in the first quarter of the year.

White Hall’s municipal revenues for the first three months of this year totaled $493,093, Welch said Monday, compared with $542,759 for the same period in 2012.

However, the 2 percent prepared food tax revenues for the first quarter of the year totaled $71,441, compared with $69,184 for the same three-month period last year.

Municipal revenues follow cycles, Welch said, and the patterns usually hold true year after year, with slow periods and quarters of higher revenue.

The 2013 municipal budget adopted by White Hall aldermen totaled $4.147 million, up $84,814 from the 2012 budget of $4.06 million, she said.

Municipal revenues come from the city and county sales taxes, personal and real property taxes, Act 833 (a tax on fire insurance premiums), state turnback, building permits, rummage sale permits and occupational licenses.

Property taxes are collected by the county and remitted to the city, while the state collects sales taxes and remits to the municipality monthly by direct deposit, Welch said.

While Lawhon said he is optimistic Redfield’s finances will improve, Pine Bluff is looking at a number of options to balance the municipal books, facing a 1.4 percent revenue drop from 2012, with a 2013 budget that reflects a 2.5 percent increase over last year.

A hiring freeze, employee furloughs, cutting departmental expenses, reducing allocations for street overlay and maintenance work by $100,000, cutting the contribution to the city’s emergency reserve by $150,000 and a one-time reduction of $1.35 million in reserves from the five-eighths cent city sales tax were being considered at Pine Bluff.