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City Council hashes out growing capital projects list

City Council hashes out growing capital projects list

March 13th, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

Jefferson City Ward 2 Councilman J. Rick Mihalevich expresses his desire to move projects and funding forward during a work session Monday at the Jefferson City Municipal Court.

Photo by Emil Lippe /News Tribune.

After more than an hour of discussion, the Jefferson City Council decided during a special Monday work session which capital projects it plans to fund this year.

The council unanimously decided to use the remaining $890,277 available in the unassigned general fund balance to pay for a dump truck, the city's worker compensation shortfall and gap financing for condemned properties in the East Capitol Avenue urban renewal zone — a total of $704,000.

This leaves a remaining estimated fund balance of $186,277 for the rest of the fiscal year.

The council also will utilize more than $2.25 million in the Sales Tax G "Contingency/Economic Development" fund to pay for the Fire Station No. 2 financial shortfall and downtown streetscape repair and electrical project — a total of more than $1.44 million.

This leaves $808,898 remaining in the "Contingency/Economic Development" fund.

City staff listed these projects as top funding priorities for the general assigned fund balance and Sales Tax G.

The city's Public Works and Planning Committee called for a work session last month as the capital projects wish list continued expanding, reaching more than $48.5 million.

The city has more than $6.1 million in its estimated fiscal year 2017 unassigned fund balance, almost 19 percent of the adopted budget. The unassigned general fund must have a minimum of 17 percent of the fiscal year's adopted budget. This means the city must have about $5.5 million in reserves — leaving a little more than $655,000 for projects.

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The city also anticipates receiving a $235,000 reimbursement for the South Lincoln Street project from FEMA, bringing the total amount for capital projects up to $890,277.

Originally, the council debated whether it should move forward with funding the downtown streetscape electric project, which came in over bid. However, city staff said it would be more appropriate to do the electric work while working on the downtown streetscape project than waiting until the next time the streets and sidewalks are repaired.

Several council members also noted safety was a top priority, which is why funding the remaining estimated construction cost for Fire Station No. 2 was important. They noted they made a commitment to residents to fund the new fire station.

Ward 3 Councilman Ken Hussey said while he supported city staff's recommendations and priorities, the council needed to keep in mind that by funding these projects, money would be tight this year and potentially in future years.

"We're essentially going to go through this next budget year with $186,000 in flexibility in the fund balance and we sometimes spend money on supplemental appropriations like we're giving out candy at Halloween," he said. "We have to get comfortable with that, that it's going to be a really tight year, (and) that if staff comes to us with some of these emergency expenditures, it's not going to just be approved — it's got to be 'Where did we cut to make up the difference?'"

He added the same thinking had to be applied to the Sales Tax G contingency line item.