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City anticipates tight budget year after funding capital projects

City anticipates tight budget year after funding capital projects

March 18th, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

This May 2012 file photo shows the John G. Christy Municipal Building, commonly known as City Hall, at 320 E. McCarty St. in Jefferson City.

Photo by News Tribune /News Tribune.

Since the City Council funded six capital projects with the unassigned general fund balance and Sales Tax G funds, Jefferson City officials anticipate a tight budget year.

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The council will use the remaining $890,277 available in the unassigned general fund balance to pay for a dump truck, the city's workers' compensation shortfall and gap financing for condemned properties in the East Capitol Avenue urban renewal zone. This will leave a remaining estimated fund balance of $186,277 for the rest of the fiscal year.

The council will use 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 projects. This will leave $808,898 remaining in the line item.

Ward 3 Councilman Ken Hussey said last week that the council and department directors will have to remember that funding the six projects means money will be tight this year and possibly in future years.

"We're essentially going to go through this next budget year with $186,000 in flexibility in the fund balance," 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?'"

Jefferson City Public Works Director Matt Morasch said the anticipated tight budget will not change how his department operates, as city staff will continue going through the same budget processes.

Vehicle and equipment repairs typically are discussed during the city's annual budget season, and pink sheets — requests for funding — are typical for these items during that time.

The city's annual budget season is about to start; the city's Budget Committee typically hold meetings in July or August to look over the budget and hear pink sheet requests.

When equipment breaks outside of the budget season or projects come in over budget, Morasch said, he contacts the city administrator and City Council to decide if replacement equipment or projects should be funded.

Sonny Sanders, Planning and Protective Services director, agreed an anticipated tight budget will not change how the department operates. The department applied for a couple of grants; if it receives them, he might still approach the City Council for a supplemental appropriation to cover the local match required for the grant.

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"When budget time comes, I'm not going to hesitate to submit pink sheets for additional items we need, whether that's personnel or vehicles or programs we want to put in place," he said. "There may be funding and the sales tax may turn around before the budget process. I wouldn't not want to ask for things we need that would be benefiting to the community based on what the budget is now because it could always get better. It doesn't always have to get worse."

If unanticipated expenses arise throughout the year, he said, city staff tries to address those within the department — moving money around within the Planning and Protective Services budget — before approaching the City Council for a supplemental appropriation.

The city had 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, which left slight more than $655,000 for projects.

The city also anticipates receiving a $235,000 reimbursement for the South Lincoln Street project from FEMA, which brought the total amount for the unassigned fund balance up to $890,277.