While they didn’t make any final decisions, the Sedalia City Council agreed to several new expenditures in its Fiscal Year 2014 budget during a work session Monday.
Last week city administrator Gary Edwards told council the city was facing an approximate $1.8 million shortfall between revenue and expenses. New figures show that number has gone down to about $845,000, thanks to an “infusion of cash” coming from a cemetery fund transfer and the railroad totaling $650,000.
“We don’t have that money in the bank yet, but we should get it by the end of March or maybe very early April,” Edwards said. “Keeping that number in mind, we can now look at the budget and what things we’d like to see funded.”
• Pay raises, $175,000: The most expensive item, giving a 2 percent pay raise to all city employees who are eligible, received much discussion during the city’s budget strategy session held earlier this month but council members were all on board with the idea Monday.
“I did have concerns about this because I wanted to make sure everything else was addressed first,” said Ward 4 Councilman Ken Norton. “I didn’t want a pay increase to come at the sacrifice of five other things. I think it’s a good thing.”
• Hiring additional personnel, $192,000 total: The council approved the idea of hiring two additional police officers, an additional code enforcement officer and a second full-time IT technician. Edwards noted the Sedalia Police Department has not had a staff increase since 1974 despite a 300 percent increase in calls for service.
The code enforcement hire came out of a recommendation from the Citizens for a Clean Sedalia committee, which asked council to consider hiring a second code enforcement employee to help be more pro-active in its approach to dealing with code violation issues.
“The Clean Up committee is being very aggressive with these violations. It wants to see our issues resolved,” Edwards said. “We do have the option of delaying this hire and adding the position in six months but the budget does support this and I would prefer to get the position hired now so we can get going quickly.”
•Miscellaneous: Edwards noted these weren’t the only expenses the city was facing next year. An 18.5 percent rate hike for health insurance could force the city to pay an additional $100,000. Edwards told council this was just a preliminary number; he and city Finance Director Pam Burlingame would be meeting with officials to get final numbers but because of the weather those meetings had been pushed back. In addition, council agreed to start funding the SPD’s retirement fund at a cost of about $37,000 per year and increased its payment for economic development from $107,000 to $120,000.
A public hearing on the FY14 budget will be on March 4 and council must approve a final budget by March 31.