During its meeting Monday, the Sedalia City Council got an updated view of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, which the council will vote to approve this month. Among the items discussed were the sales tax growth rate, projected fund balance and a few outstanding projects.
“The council has been looking at the budget and various projects since January, but we had a few points we wanted to clarify and make sure we knew where council members’ thoughts were before moving on,” said City Administrator Gary Edwards.
Looking ahead to FY2013, which starts April 1, Edwards and city staff have predicted a 1.5 percent growth in sales taxes next year.
“That percentage is pretty conservative. Generally sales tax comes in 7 to 10 percent above the previous year,” Edwards said.
“We like to be on the safe side with sales tax growth mostly because we can’t control what happens beyond our borders. State and federal economies have a large impact on us, so we’re taking a more cautious approach.”
Though the city may be cautious, projections show increased revenue for FY2013 with $26,825,462 anticipated total revenue funds and a general fund balance of $9,233,374 for the end of FY2012.
“However, looking at last year’s projected revenue and expenses, we did come up shorter than we thought we’d be,” Edwards said.
“We had about a $104,000 difference between revenues and expenses due to unbudgeted expenses — the tornado and wind storm cleanup as well as repaving Thompson Boulevard. Thompson, especially, is an excellent example of why we shouldn’t authorize major expenses outside of the budget.”
Most of the biggest projects — the Washington Avenue bridge, new fire truck and station and the sidewalk program — will be financed through Fund 15, a quarter-cent sales tax, while the other five projects will come from the general revenue fund.
Edwards pointed out that some of the projects are long-term commitments, including the fire station, which will replace the 40-year-old Fire Station No. 2 at 2606 W. 16th St., and will take 20 years to completely pay for, and the fire truck, which will take five years.
The council also approved changes to a few projects discussed during the strategic budget planning session Feb. 18, including:
• A new citywide pay plan that will be implemented March 18. The plan will move all employees into a step chart, and depending on current market value, some employees may receive a raise. “These raises won’t be across the board,” Edwards cautioned. “It will depend on market value, how their pay compares to similar jobs in comparable cities.”
• The creation of a new building to house the Crown Hill Cemetery office. The current building does not comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which opens the city to lawsuits, Edwards said. A new building will also move the offices onto cemetery property and include storage space. Originally, the council was presented with a proposed $250,000 budget, which it rejected. The new budget will be $108,000 for the building and creating a columbarium.
• Repairing sidewalks within city limits. During the budget planning meeting, council was asked for $100,000 to build new sidewalks and repair old ones. After discussion, council members decided against new sidewalks and will instead focus on the repair of broken or damaged walks in the north and east portions of town.
• Council also heard about miscellaneous projects, including creating an internship program between the city and State Fair Community College, sending a citywide survey on public opinion of city services, and adding $2,000 to the community development budget to become more active in retail.
The council will review the official budget and vote on its approval during its regular meeting March 19.