Tracking cities’ financial health, part 2

WESTOVER

The city of Westover was established in 2001. From its inception to 2007, the city has experienced a steep growth curve, with 20-percent growth, then a mid-teen decline after the economic downturn, according to Mayor Mark McLaughlin.

“The five-year number has been relatively flat,” he said of budgetary figures. “In 2008 to 2009, (revenues) dropped off pretty hard, but it was after a gain, and it picked up after that.”

Although the city hasn’t experienced much growth in terms of revenue, business licenses have “continued to grow through the ‘Great Depression’ we’ve been in,” McLaughlin said.

The city has expanded to include five miles of U.S. 280, and has added some city services including the library, storm shelter, city park and constant fire coverage, he said.

McLaughlin said a key to providing services to residents is cross-training employees. He said all Westover’s firefighters have been medically trained to some degree.

Volunteers run some of the public services, including the library and senior center.

“People have invested in their community,” McLaughlin said.

Westover officials don’t collect property tax from residents.

“It’d be a bunch of money, but we don’t want to put it on, and we don’t have thoughts to put it on,” he said.

The city’s budget is about $629,000, with sales tax revenues making up 75 percent of the budget.

“We haven’t had to cut anything. If anything, we’ve grown,” he said. “I keep thinking that five years ago, we didn’t have all these services.”