Westlake facing $406,000 budget deficit

The City of Westlake is an estimated $406,000 in the red for its fiscal year ending June 30, a city finance official said.

Director of Finance Jimmy Ashworth said the projected deficit is in the general fund, and the latest estimate is from March and could “very easily have changed.”

“We begin in March putting this together and getting it to the council so they can start looking at it,” he said. “We have to make a projection, and the projection is not an exact science. The best way to do it is to say you spent this much in a seven-month period, so you’re averaging this much a month, so this is the projection.”

Ashworth said “a lot of times” the final number comes out different than the projected number.

“One thing that doesn’t show in the projections is the transfers that come in from other funds,” he said. “The general fund is set up not to make money — it relies on funds through transferring money in to help pay for (the general fund) so to speak.”

The budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 was passed by the City Council this month by a 4-1 — Councilman Wally Anderson voted against adopting the budget.

Ashworth said the city budgeted $5.4 million in its general fund for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which is balanced at zero.

He said the reason for there being a deficit one year and the budget being balanced the next could depend on the number of projects the city has and the equipment the city needs to purchase.

“For example, we needed to buy new vehicles for the public works department one year, so we had something that we had to get done,” he said. “So, we may spend the money that year and then not the next year.”

The council didn’t approve its 2012-2013 budget until November 2012 ­— five months into its fiscal year.