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Plans to tear down old Cole County jail and sheriff's house move forward April 16, 2014

JC Council to begin budget work Monday

Pink sheets detail unfunded needs in city departments

The Jefferson City Council is preparing to go through the proposed 2014 budget with a fine-toothed comb Monday, but council members will find very few differences between Mayor Eric Struemph’s proposed budget and what was proposed by City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus in May.

In presenting his budget July 18, Struemph announced several large changes to the budget, including the funding of a full-time finance director, the elimination of funds for JCTV, the addition of a contingency fund within the general fund, an additional $100,000 for street chemicals, and an additional $3,000 to resume security at City Council meetings, which was cut earlier this year when the city faced a $1.68 million shortfall.

The mayor’s budget also includes a nearly $5,000 allocation for a part-time employee to operate cameras in the council chambers to allow the city to continue its online streaming of council meetings.

Another addition in Struemph’s budget increases funds for the neighborhood reinvestment program from $30,000 to $45,000. The program offers down payment assistance for qualified home buyers.

But Struemph’s budget also eliminates the $5,000 allocated for the Old Town Redevelopment Committee. Struemph said this was an arrangement worked out with members of the Old Town Redevelopment Company, which has been receiving additional financial assistance from some local banks to help cover the administrative costs that the city’s $5,000 used to help fund.

“So the committee came to me and said, ‘Hey instead of (the $5,000), could we take that and put it towards some more down payment assistance,’” Struemph said. “This will allow the Old Town Redevelopment (Company) to help even more families on down payment assistance.”

Other changes focus on the city’s transit funds, where interim Finance Director Bill Betts said additional money was able to be found.

The city’s transit matching fund was reduced by more than $200,000 and the amount of money received from the federal government exceeded expectations by nearly $82,000.

“That’s just good fortune that our grant came in bigger than what we anticipated,” Nickolaus said.

Betts said the city also had failed to take two part-time bus driver positions out of the budget after the former South Route was eliminated last year. Removing those positions created additional vacancy savings of $128,000.

Return of the pink sheets

Also included in Struemph’s budget are several unfunded requests from various city departments. These pink sheets, as they’re called, are a relic of earlier budgeting processes and a practice that was eliminated under former City Administrator Steve Rasmussen.

Nickolaus said the pink sheets really allow for the city to keep a record of certain requests and how long a department has been requesting a specific item or upgrade. It also allows council members to directly see what department directors are requesting that has been left out of proposed budgets.

“These are things that we did not feel that we could fund,” Nickolaus said. “They serve an important function.”

This year’s pink sheets include unfunded requests from Human Resources, the Police Department, Public Works, and Planning and Protective Services.

The Police Department requested a replacement of their heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system, with an estimated cost of $450,000. In the written justification for the request, the department stated, “There are serious health concerns for the employees working at the Police Department.”

Nickolaus said departments are trying to make sure their request is seen as a priority, so often justifications for those requests will be written accordingly. And though the replacement of the HVAC system in the Police Department is something he believes is a high priority, it’s also something that can’t fit in this year’s budget.

“It’s a difficult choice on each one of them,” Nickolaus said. “You have to look at where does this fit in overall in city priorities ... we just don’t have the money.”

The Police Department also requested the purchase of a new uninterrupted power supply unit, which “serves as the link, providing uninterrupted power following a catastrophic malfunction for that period of time before the existing generator activates the secondary power source.” According to the justification, the current unit is near capacity and cannot be upgraded to support a larger capacity. The estimated cost of the request is $45,000.

In Human Resources, the only unfunded request is for new applicant tracking software, which would “encourage tech-savvy applicants, minimize data entry and paper processing, create a progressive image for the city, and allow application questions to be customized to each position.” The cost of the request is $14,000, with annual maintenance fees at $7,000.

Planning and Protective Services has requested the restoration of funding for a seasonal mosquito program, which would require two seasonal staff positions, mosquito control chemicals and other operating supplies at a total cost of $19,905.

The department also requested a reclassification of an existing position from administrative technician to a higher grade, which has yet to be determined. Because the grade has not been set, no accompanying salary increase has been determined either.

Public Works has requested a trailer for hauling the department’s mini-excavator and other equipment at a cost of $8,500. Also requested is a truck-mounted street sweeper replacement for $270,000.

At the airport, the department has requested the addition of a seasonal part-time position for $8,000 to assist with mowing the field and custodial responsibilities.

Within the department’s parking division, there is a request to reclassify several positions at a cost of $7,000.

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