"We've got to be careful about being too optimistic," City Finance Director Alfred Martin warned council members. "There's a lot of uncertainty here."
Martin and others listed several unknown factors that could decrease the amount of revenues the city expects, including state and federal grants, and county excise taxes.
Although the General Assembly passed legislation this year that would allow county officials to raise more money through its excise tax on new development, some of which would be handed over to the city, Mayor William M. Breichner said that funding source is not yet certain.
"You still have to have the governor sign" the bill, Breichner said Tuesday. He said he had heard about lobbying efforts to get the governor to veto the bill.
Without three council members supporting the move, the city property tax rate will remain at the current level, 79.8 cents per $100 assessed property value. For a home assessed at $150,000, that would translate to a $1,197 annual property tax bill from the city.
The discussion during the city's weekly Tuesday work session was scheduled to be the last public meeting on the budget before the budget is set to be adopted on May 24. The city is not scheduled to meet next week because of the city elections.
During Tuesday's meeting, the City Council also OK'd a move to pay for a city police detective's salary. The detective's salary had been paid by a grant, but the grant is unavailable this year.
The $40,000 is available because City Police Chief Arthur Smith is on an unpaid leave of absence.
The City Council also moved to make developers pay a greater share for improvements to the intersection of Dual Highway and Edgewood Drive.
That project is expected to cost more than $8 million, and the city had planned to borrow $2.7 million for its share.
Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he believed that because city residents also pay county taxes, city government should not have to contribute more than what already has been dedicated - about $34,000 for design costs - to the road-improvement project.
In response, the council agreed to raise the $2.7 million from developers who choose to build near the intersection instead of borrow the money.
In a special voting session held before the work session, the council introduced an ordinance that would raise annual trash collection fees from $100 to $108. The ordinance must be approved by a majority of the council to take effect.
The city also authorized the borrowing of $7.1 million to help pay for sewer system improvements. Martin said the annual interest rate will be less than 1 percent because the 20-year borrowing package is through a government program.