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PERSPECTIVE: City of Hurricane Council Approves $8 Million Budget

The annual budget for the City of Hurricane for the fiscal year beginning on July 1st is slightly in excess of $8 million. How big is $8 million? Relative to the $24 million budget for Putnam County, it is large. The most recent population numbers (2022) for Putnam County is 57,015. Hurricane’s 2022 population was placed at 6,846. The county is projected to expend $420.94 per person while the City of Hurricane will spend $1,168.57 per person.

Comparing county and city expenditures is unfair. Cities and counties do not provide the same services. The City of Hurricane has budgeted $1.76 million for streets and highways. The county does not maintain streets and highways.

It is far more fair to compare Hurricane’s past budgets with that for the upcoming fiscal year. In 1993, the city’s budget surpassed $1 million for the first time. In 1993, the value of the U.S. dollar was more than twice of today’s dollar. Hurricane’s $1 million 1993 budget would have been equivalent to $2.148 million now.

The $2.148 million budget in 1993 cannot be directly compared to the 2024 budget because the population of Hurricane has increased. In 1993 the city’s population was 5,190. The $1.76 million which the city council budgeted for streets and highways for the coming fiscal year is $257.08 per resident. In 1993, the per person expenditure was $31.26 for streets and highways (equivalent to $67.15 in today’s dollars). That is a big difference. When adjusted for inflation, Hurricane is expending 3.8 times per person for streets and highways more than in 1993.

How about Police Department expenditure? The 2024-25 fiscal year projection is $2,876,000 or 36.0% of the total. The 1993 percentage was 40.8% of the total budget. In terms of dollars per resident, the Police budget was $168.86 in today’s dollars. The cost of the present day Hurricane Police Department is $420.10 per resident, 2.5 times what it was in 1993.

As stated in the opening paragraph, the overall cost of city government in Hurricane is $1,168.57 per person. This is 2.8 times greater than the per person overall cost in 1993 after adjustment for inflation.

Where is the $8 million coming from? Taxes produces $7.23 million of the total. Only a portion of the tax total is paid by residents. All residents pay property taxes (Renters pay property tax because a portion of their monthly rent is used to pay business property tax). Property taxes account for $1.81 million — or 22.6% of the budget. In 1993, the total property taxes were $341,753 — 34.2% of the budget. Hurricane’s budget has expanded faster than property tax collections. Two tax revenue streams which have out paced increases in property tax are Business & Occupation (B&O) Tax and Sales Tax. In 1993, there was no sales tax. Sales tax revenue for the upcoming fiscal year is projected to be $2.1 million. B&O tax collections were $305,000 in 1993 (equivalent to $654,000 of today’s dollars). B&O tax collections are projected to generate $1.9 million in revenue in 2024-25. Hurricane now has $3.46 million more (adjusted for inflation) from these taxes than in 1993.

The quality of city services has increased. The 2024-25 budget lists $560,745 in expenditures for the Fire Department. In 1993, the Fire Department’s budget was $7,500. The Hurricane Fire Department of 1993 was a volunteer fire department. Today’s Hurricane Fire Department consists of volunteers and six paid firefighters. The entire Hurricane community is now served by a well-trained professional fire department.

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