Next week will mark the start of Jefferson City's annual budget process as Mayor Carrie Tergin will present her draft budget July 27 to the City Council.
However, Tergin said people should not expect to see any big changes to the process or the budget itself, as revenues continue to be tight, leaving little room for flexibility. (The 2015 budget projected $29.4 million in general fund revenues.)
"I think what people are going to expect is that I will get in there like I have as the new mayor and completely change things around," Tergin said. "I think that's going to be the expectation, but I'm here to assure everybody that those are not my intentions."
Tergin said her draft budget will be consistent with previous budgets from the city and what she sees as her priorities (public safety and public works). She emphasized she wants to work collaboratively with the council and department directors throughout the budget process to ensure every interested party has a clear voice in budget discussions.
As far as what specifically can be expected when Tergin releases her draft budget, she said personnel likely will be a conversation, as the city continues to deal with staff cuts from two years ago, mainly in the Public Works Department and the Fire Department. Reinstating the fire training officer position is expected to be discussed, as that position was lost in the 2013 cuts that followed an unexpected budget shortfall, and council members have been discussing funding the position throughout the past year.
If possible, Tergin said she'd like to see more financial support for neighborhood reinvestment programs, such as those provided by the Old Town Revitalization Company.
Tergin said she hopes the types of conversations the council has during budget meetings will continue throughout the year at the committee level, encouraging officials to continually evaluate programs, positions and funding levels, which she believes may help make the annual budget process simpler and easier for all involved.
"I'm actually looking forward to this," Tergin said of the budget discussions. "I'm excited about it."
Discussions on the 2016 budget will begin July 27 at City Hall. After Tergin releases her draft budget, the council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays at City Hall until the budget is ready for final approval. The 2016 fiscal year will begin Nov. 1.