Parks Commission approves budget adjustments

The Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Commission has approved budget adjustments to correspond with lower than projected sales tax receipts and the city’s $1.68 million budget shortfall in general revenue.

At the commission meeting Tuesday, department director Bill Lockwood said the city’s budget shortfall has caused two adjustments to money the department receives from the general fund totaling $33,300. As part of the proposed cuts from the city, the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department will be charged $13,300 in “administration chargeback,” which is tied to staff costs for sales tax collections. The cuts also include a $20,000 reduction in parks funding for street tree maintenance.

“I think it’s minor enough,” Lockwood said.

The commission voted to approve the changes and show the City Council they support the measures being taken to deal with the city’s shortfall.

Lockwood also presented adjustments to projects listed under capital improvement sales taxes E and F. Sales tax E, which was collected from 2007 through 2012, came in below projections causing changes to be made in the amount of funding for certain projects. Sales tax F is projected to come in $2.5 million lower than originally projected and the city is taking steps to adjust the funding plan accordingly.

In sales tax E, $5,000 was taken from the funding for riverfront and greenway projects, leaving $70,000 for those projects. The only other change in sales tax E was eliminating the $50,000 set aside for central east end and old Missouri State Penitentiary projects, which the commission said were never really defined.

“I saw little happening on the horizon in the near future,” Lockwood said of the MSP projects.

In sales tax F, the department had to make $196,000 worth of cuts in capital projects. Those funds came from greenway trail acquisition and development, road and parking improvements, north Jefferson City recreation improvements, and prison site and park development.

“The adjustments, to me, are reasonable,” Lockwood said.

The commission approved the adjustment for both sales taxes and also approved of the department taking part in the city’s early retirement program, known as the separation incentive plan. Lockwood said the plan would work differently in the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department than in other city departments because positions that become vacant will not be left open for too long.

The idea, he said, would be to keep the position open until all payments are made to the retiree for accrued sick or vacation time and any health insurance costs. Once those are paid out, the department would look to fill the position.

In other city departments, to achieve savings, positions that become open would remain open likely until the end of fiscal year 2014.

“I don’t like these cuts,” Lockwood said. “But the reality is the money is not there.”

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