SIKESTON - The city of Sikeston will go into its next fiscal year with nearly $300,000 in cuts from present services.
The City of Sikeston's Fiscal Year 2004 budget, which goes into effect July 1, was approved by Council 4-2 during its regular session Monday with council members Sue Rogers and Jerry Pullen voting against its adoption. Councilman Michael Harris was unable to attend due to National Guard duty.
The budget "focuses on living within our means," said City Manager Doug Friend, projecting total revenue for the coming fiscal year at $9,082,744 with fund balances totaling $5,218,251. Appropriations from the general fund total $6,677,247.
Despite previously announced cuts to the Department of Economic Development still being in place including the elimination of the department's director position, Mayor Michael Marshall said economic development will still be a focus.
Friend said the city has not found any new revenue sources, "so we have to live within our means." He added that the general fund, which comprises the city's discretionary portion of the budget, does not have enough money to maintain existing levels of services.
City staff has been directed by Council to come up with revenue options, Friend said, and in addition to long-term solutions like economic development are also looking into things like restructuring fees and selling city assets. "We need long-term, dependable revenue that we can depend on," Friend said.
Council also adopted the Fiscal Year 2004 staffing and compensation ordinance 5-1 with Rogers entering the dissenting vote.
The total number of city jobs was reduced by 10 full-time positions for the coming fiscal year due to budgetary constraints, according to Friend. Positions eliminated are: one receptionist, one communications officer, one sergeant and four public safety officers, leaving a total of 114 full-time and 5 part-time positions remaining.
Of the four public safety officer positions, one vacancy was created by the activation of an employee to military leave and will be authorized and funded upon the individual's return to full-time employment with the city.
The city will continue to pay 80 percent of group medical insurance premiums for employees, but the deductible will go up from $500 to $1,000 on Jan. 1. No changes were made to paid sick leave, holiday or vacation benefits and the merit pay raise plan was preserved, but no cost-of-living increase is included in this budget.
Resident Laura Burns, who earlier expressed concern for the city's future financial state during discussion of the budget, said this is the third year in a row with no cost of living pay increase for city employees. "That concerns me," she said.
"It concerns me, too," Friend replied.
Councilman Jim Terrell said as a retired city employee, he can remember going three years without a COL raise. "It's very frustrating," he said.
Less that 10 percent of Sikeston residents voted for the proposed PILOT, Pullen said, which would have provided the city with revenue.
In other action:
* A bill amending the composition of nine-member Public Safety and Appeals Board to include one member of the Council was approved.
Friend said this was one of the few boards that did not have a Council member sitting on it.
Voting members on the board will now include eight citizen appointees serving three-year terms and one Council member serving a one-year term.
The DPS director will remain a non-voting member of the board and the city manager, while not a permanent member of the board, may address the board as he deems appropriate.
The bill goes into effect July 9.
Councilman David Teachout was appointed as the Council's representative on the Public Safety Advisory and Appeals Board, having resigned as a citizen appointee upon being elected to the Council.
* Council appointed Linda Glaus to fill the unexpired term of Anne Hollenbeck on the Library Board of Trustees. Hollenbeck resigned due to health issues.
The term ends October 2003.
* An amendment to the 2003 Street Program was tabled at Friend's request to allow him time to gather more information.
* Council heard from David Craig, pastor of the Powerhouse of God, who asked for permission to begin broadcasting on the second public access channel provided to the city by Charter Communications under the latest franchise agreement.
Marshall said the city has not yet set policies and programming for the channel, and suggested getting with Friend. "Help us set it up, get the ball rolling," said Councilman Phil Boyer.
Craig said he has requested broadcasting privileges on the city's first public access channel for 12 years. "I'm not trying to compete," he said, "just trying to get it started."
* Friend advised the Council a meeting with the Missouri Department of Transportation regarding requested traffic lights at HH and North Main is scheduled for June 26.
Friend said MoDOT has said they face "geometric design problems" at the intersection which will require new pavement, and that a temporary signal there would create a greater hazard.
"Even a caution light would be better than we got," said Pullen.