City sees 12 percent drop in 2014 revenue

Jefferson City is facing declining revenues and the city administrator is projecting a 12 percent drop in revenues for the next fiscal year.

City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus revealed his draft of the 2014 budget Wednesday morning, which is projecting a $5 million reduction in general revenue. Nickolaus’ budget projects flat sales tax revenues and declining property taxes, as well as utility taxes.

In a letter to Mayor Eric Struemph introducing his draft budget, Nickolaus said the cuts made by the city in March to help cover a $1.68 million shortfall for the current fiscal year have generated more savings than expected, meaning only minimal additional cuts were needed for the next fiscal year.

Vacancy savings and savings from the city’s early retirement program, known as the Separation Incentive Program, are projected to save about $1.5 million in next year’s budget. The city is not filling a majority of open positions, including finance director, fire chief and public works director. Those positions have been filled on an interim basis.

“I would emphasize that the city must begin to seek new revenue sources,” Nickolaus wrote. “This will be critical for our future. Since expenses continue to increase faster than income, it is obvious that we will not be able to cut our way out of this fiscal situation.”

But Nickolaus outlined at least three programs and services he did not cut as part of his proposed budget. Nickolaus did not include any cuts to the city’s transit system, proposed maintaining the $10,000 level of funding for Salute to America and has kept JCTV funded at $110,000.

Transit, Salute to America and JCTV all faced cuts in the past year, before the City Council opted to provide some level of funding.

Nickolaus’ budget does not include any salary raises for city employees, which he noted would be the first time in at least 23 years those were not given.

His budget goes to Struemph, who will work on his draft until mid-summer when he presents it to the full City Council. Struemph’s budget is expected to be available by July 18.

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