The city's finances are stable despite the pandemic, City Finance Manager Helena Alves told City Council members.
Palm Coast's General Fund revenue is $2.6 million ahead of where the city expected it would be, and the city is moving ahead with the planned hiring of two new deputies and reinstating staff raises that were suspended due to concerns about the financial impact of COVID-19.
A "very conservative approach to spending" contributed to the savings, Palm Coast Finance Manager Helena Alves said.
The city received $1.4 million in unbudgeted CARES Act money for General Fund expenses and is also millions of dollars ahead in savings for funds such as the city Utility fund and the Parks and Recreation fund.
Measures taken by City Manager Matt Morton, along with a "very conservative approach to spending" because of financial uncertainties caused by the virus, contributed to those savings, Palm Coast Finance Manager Helena Alves said at a City Council workshop Jan. 12.
"This is not something you see in a normal year," she said.
The city's General Fund came in approximately $500,000 under budget, Alves said, while Community Development came in $200,000 under budget, Public Safety came in $590,000 under budget, Parks and Recreation came in $607,000 under budget, the Streets Division came in $625,000 under budget, the Water and Wastewater utility came in $1.9 million under budget and the Stormwater Department came in $1 million under budget.
The city also recovered a little over $500,000 in COVID-19-related expenditures under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, she said.
"When we budgeted staff salaries, there was a freeze in both COLA and merit increases for the fiscal year 2021," Alves said. "At this point, given the financial results of 2020, we are requesting that council approve restoring the fiscal year 2021 COLA for all city employees. ... At the same time, we are also requesting that council approve restoring the city manager's 2020 evaluation pay."
Morton had, in June, declined a $7,250, or 5%, raise over his salary of $145,000, noting that he'd already suspended staff pay raises and wanted to lead by example. He'd been eligible for the increase because the City Council's evaluation of his performance had surpassed the "meets expectations" level.
Mayor Milissa Holland thanked Alves and Morton.
"Very fiscally responsible," Holland said. "We really appreciate all your hard work."
Holland suggested that the city also approve the funding of two additional Flagler County Sheriff's Office deputy positions. The City Council had agreed in October to hire two more deputies to patrol Palm Coast starting in 2021, if the city's finances would allow for it.
The council unanimously approved the funding of the deputies' positions and the reinstatement of staff raises at its Jan. 19 meeting. The raises will go into effect in the first pay period of February and will not be retroactive.