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The Jefferson City Budget Committee needs to have a larger conversation regarding revenues, some committee members said Thursday evening.

The overall proposed mayor-approved budget for Fiscal Year 2020 is more than $65.1 million. The general fund budget for FY2020 is more than $32.9 million.

The FY2020 begins Nov. 1.

Following city departments’ budget presentations, Ward 2 Rick Mihalevich thanked city staff for preparing the proposed budget but said it “isn’t very forward-thinking in terms of future years.”

“I see nine police cars needed that if we don’t get those, we’ll get double the request next year and that’s just one department,” Mihalevich said, adding there may be upcoming expenses from the May 22 tornado.

City Administrator Steve Crowell said city staff was calculating total expenses related to the EF-3 tornado and recent flooding. He said there is “certainly an impact on the fund balance” but he was not sure what that impact was.

“I think we’ll be able to cover those costs with the existing budget, understanding that something else that was planned wouldn’t get done but that still remains to be seen,” he said.

For example, Crowell said, if there were several city demolitions, the city could delay other city expenses.

Ward 3 Councilman Ken Hussey said he thought the proposed FY2020 budget was forward-thinking since department chairs were discussing their departments’ needs. However, “the revenues aren’t there to match the needs they have,” he added.

“The challenge we face is our revenues collectively do not provide us with the resources to match the resources of the community,” Hussey said. “The bigger conversation to have isn’t: ‘Where do we share the money?’ It’s a larger conversation about prioritization and what can we do to generate more revenue to provide what our citizens expect in terms of paved roads, sidewalks, abatements, demolition, police vehicles that aren’t approaching 150,000-200,000 miles.”

Hussey said he did not know what the answer to the problem is.

Ward 1 Councilman Rick Prather said committee members must also review the city’s expenses at the same time.

Ward 4 Councilman Carlos Graham also echoed Hussey’s comments but added department chairs should not wait to request a purchase if the expense addresses a serious issue. For example, Graham said he was concerned regarding the Jefferson City Police Department’s requested radio tower since it has the “capability of saving someone’s life.”

The department submitted a funding request for $14,917 to erect a radio tower on Rainbow Drive to improve radio reception in the Ventura Avenue, Del Ray Avenue and Candlelight Drive area. Police Chief Roger Schroeder told the committee earlier this week the lack of reliable radio reception in that area was a situation that had to be addressed.

The pink sheet was not funded in the FY2020 mayor-approved budget.

“I encourage department heads, if there is something out there that we really need and you can’t wait (until) the budget process, bring it before the committee so we can have that conversation,” Graham said. “If we had three snowplow trucks and two engines went out all of a sudden in October, I wouldn’t wait to the next (budget) cycle to ask for a next truck (when) we know winter is coming.”

The police department owns an 80-foot tower and radio broadcast equipment for the project. The department would need to purchase an antenna, cable, rack and shed, as well as erect the tower, to complete the project, the pink sheet notes.

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