Tyrone maintains 13-month reserve despite recession

When it comes to weathering the storm of the economic recession that never seems to end, the safest harbor in these parts is the town of Tyrone. The adoption last week of the 2012-2013 general fund budget totaling $3.629 million was not the standout story. The real news was that the town continues to maintain 13 months of operating reserves despite the recession and shrinking property values.

The real significance that came with the $3.629 General Fund budget was not that it included a $122,845 increase.

The real significance of the budget was not even that it expected to have the town maintain its very low 2.89 millage rate.

The real story is that, as in the last few years, the budget continues to carry reserves that are arguably the fiscal envy of every tax-levying entity in Fayette County. The reason is simple: fiscal restraint and accountability. Even in the midst of the continuing Great Recession and political perspectives and issues aside, Tyrone is maintaining a 13-month operating reserve.

The idea for adopting a policy that required maintaining 13 months of reserves came with some discussion at the council retreat earlier this year. Recommended by Finance Director Penny Hunter, the move to create the policy followed several years of maintaining a similar amount in reserves.

The June budget discussion also included the expectation that the town’s tax digest would decrease by at least 3 percent. That compares to the 10.39 percent decrease in the tax digest across Fayette County. And it is from the tax digest, the total value of all properties in a city or county, that property taxes are derived.

The council prior to the budget adoption was also told that local option sales tax revenues are expected to increase by approximately $150,000.

The $122,845 increase in the General Fund, or 3.5 percent, went to cover items such as a previously frozen position for a police officer, a police vehicle and small increases for the town’s municipal judge and solicitor.