By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Money was the topic of conversation for the bulk of Tuesday night’s regular meeting of the Port Isabel City Commission. Specifically, the Commission walked through preliminary budgetary plans for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, which is set to begin Oct. 1.
City Manager Jared Hockema prefaced the discussion by saying the first draft he was presenting represented a conservative picture formed by estimating higher expenses and lower revenues.
The City is still trying to recover from a budget shortfall in excess of $1 million that Hockema announced during budget planning last summer. In fact, the City had been in a deficit for four of the previous five years, Hockema told the Commission at the time.
In an attempt to right the financial woes, the Commission approved numerous cuts, including all capital expenditures, instituted a hiring freeze and offered incentive programs for employees who retired. More savings were realized through attrition — leaving vacant City positions unfilled.
At the time, Hockema described the City’s money troubles as being the result of a “structural issue,” a point which he reiterated Tuesday. “The Issue the City of Port Isabel has is really a structural issue… the amount of revenue you’re generating and the cost of services do not match up,” he said.
“That’s why we made those adjustments a few months ago. We’re trying to make the budget reflect what’s going on in the City,” he said.
He explained to the Commission how City staff have worked over the last year to implement better accounting procedures.
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