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story.lead_photo.caption From right, Council members David Kemna, Laura Ward, Carlos Graham and Mark Schreiber look over the proposed mayor-approved 2020 fiscal year budget during the July 29, 2019, Jefferson City Budget Committee meeting. Photo by Nicole Roberts / News Tribune.

Ward 5 Councilman Jon Hensley kicked off the Jefferson City Budget Committee funding requests discussions Thursday by requesting $21,000 be reallocated to the city-wide internship program.

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Committee members spent the meeting identifying projects they wish to be approved in Fiscal Year 2020, which begins Nov. 1.

Hensley requested the $21,000 be moved from the current FY2019 budget to the FY2020 budget.

The committee approved $32,800 in FY2019 for the program, but they do not anticipate using the remaining funds by the end of this fiscal year.

If the funds are not moved, they would fall into the FY2020 fund balance.

"I think the argument is pretty clear and straight forward and common sense," Hensley said. "The mechanism might be a little bulky, but let's not let this program die. Let's continue devoting the funds that we've already earmarked for this program to this program. It'll be a net even for the general fund. The money's not in there yet. As soon as this fiscal year is over, it'll fall in there, and it's only falling in there because we didn't spend it on what we said we were going to spend it on. So let's spend it on what we said we were going to spend it on."

Margie Mueller, Jefferson City Finance Department director, said the committee should not move funds from the current fiscal year because it uses fund balances, which are reserved for "unforeseen situations and long term financial planning."

The city does not have a policy prohibiting the use of fund balances to balance the budget, Mueller said.

"People say a lot that a budget's just a plan," Hensley said. "Budgets are also priorities, and they indicate a person's and a community's priorities. Anything that doesn't go into this budget will not be part of this plan."

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Ward 4 Councilman Ron Fitzwater said he was not comfortable with using money in the general fund and would rather find ways within the proposed budget to create the $21,000.

Ward 2 Councilman Rick Mihalevich said he felt strongly about the precedent of maintaining the policy uses.

"My recommendation is to wait until we understand our fund balance," he said. "Our fund balance may dip below 17 percent, and if it does that, the game's off for me. I'm not spending below our 17 percent unless it's flood or tornado or disaster-related in my own mind. Let's wait until December and see what we have."

The city's financial policies require the unreserved general fund balance to be at least 17 percent of expenditures.

The committee voted 6-4 to move the funds to the FY2020 budget.

Council members Ron Fitzwater, Rick Mihalevich, David Kemna and Rick Prather voted against moving the funds.

Council members Carols Graham, Jon Hensley, Ken Hussey, Mark Schreiber, Laura Ward and Erin Wiseman voted for moving the funds.

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The final budget has not been approved.

Committee members' requests leave them with the tasks of removing items within the budget to offset the cost of proposed projects.

Hensley proposed 15 potential items to offset costs, including $500 for City Counselor office supplies and $4,000 for Jefferson City Animal Control electricity.

Hensley also requested $5,167 for a summer law clerk, $15,000 for a part-time city prosecutor clerk and the remaining $530 for the internship program be funded.

In other business, Mihalevich requested $15,000 for a special counsel contract under Chapter 353 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. The program would assist with establishing a city-controlled urban redevelopment corporation.

Graham requested six Jefferson City Police Department vehicles and one additional officer for a total of $302,178.57.

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

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