Lovejoy heads toward budget with extra dough

By Justin Boron

Added revenue in Lovejoy from a surge in construction and business growth will give the city government a lot more room in next year's budget, leading some City Council members to say it may be time to expand the city's operations.

Income for the city government, which consists of five elected officials and three staff members, has outpaced its expenditures by more than $530,000 in a year that brought a Wal-Mart Supercenter and several other national chain businesses to the once commercially barren town.

Lovejoy overestimated on its expenditures for this year by about $170,000, according to a city budget report.

Revenue was helped out further by the city's certification, allowing it to be included in the countywide local option sales tax that is divvied up between the county government and the municipalities.

With all the extra income, the only additions to the staff or expansions of service have been a contracted city engineer.

Lovejoy's staff personnel includes a mayor charged with managing the city, a city clerk and a secretary.

The extra income created by new growth also has come with wear and tear of extra traffic and new residents in the community.

Council member Bobby Cartwright said he would like to add a department that would handle the minor public works problems like pot holes or trees fallen over the roads. Right now, the city must send most of that work out to other businesses, which can sometimes come with delays of service.

"There's some small issues around town that we need to catch up on," he said. "I want to see us accomplish more of the little things."

Council member Arlie Aukerman said the city eventually would have took at adding a city manager.

"We've got to do something here," he said.

Mayor Joe Murphy has said he would like to use some of the city's extra money for capital projects, like a planned library, one of the services used to get official certification.