SIKESTON - With money now coming in from the one-cent sales tax, Sikeston's budget is larger for fiscal year 2006 on both the revenue and expenditure sides of the ledger.
City Council members approved the FY-06 budget and staffing and compensation ordinance during the special Sikeston City Council meeting Wednesday following a public hearing which City Manager Doug Friend described as the "final opportunity for the public to comment on any aspect of the budget."
Mayor Mike Marshall said council members and city staff "try to be as public and open as we can."
Before passing the budget, public hearings were held during morning, noon and evening meetings so residents could attend. "We run this city open," Marshall said.
The only public input during the final hearing Wednesday was an request from Tom Nunnelee to repair the tennis courts at the city's sports complex.
"I think tennis is on an upswing," Nunnelee said. He said the annual Ed Nunnelee Memorial Tournament has been growing with more and more participants from out of state every year.
"We draw people from a wide variety of places," he said. "It's one of the largest tennis tournaments in the Heartland."
The latest estimates for renovating the courts at the complex are $85,000 to remove and rebuild the courts or $71,000 for an overlay.
Friend said he had $1.25 million worth of capital improvement requests but trimmed $300,000 to arrive at $978,000 in capital improvements.
He recommended the Council delay the tennis court improvements until they get about six months into the budget year. Then in December or January, council members can re-evalute.
"We're not going to abandon the tennis courts," said Marshall. He said the city will renovate the courts but it is a matter of timing.
Projected revenues for all funds in the FY-06 budget is about $12 million, according to City Clerk Carroll Couch, but much of that is in restricted funds.
"Two of that $12 million is just for streets," he offered as an example.
Last year the city brought in about $11 million. "The big difference is the anticipated receipts of the sales tax money," Couch said.
Total expenditures for fiscal year 2006 are $12.3 million as compared with $10.4 last year.
As the city's charter mandates bills don't go into effect for 30 days, the budget was passed as an emergency ordinance to comply with the charter's timeline for the budget process.
Friend said the budget required 8-10 weeks of work by city staff and sets the city's priorities for the next year.
"This is formal in nature; it's a requirement," Friend said. The budget can and probably will change, he said, as unforeseen expenditures can arise, for example.
As promised to voters in February 2004, the revenue stream created by the one-cent sales tax has been dedicated to three distinct areas, according to Friend: the Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority, an expansion for the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center, and public safety. "I think we're doing everything we said we would do," he said.
The budget includes $500,000 for the LCRA and $2.48 million for the childcare center and four additional classrooms being built at SAHEC. The expansion is expected to be operational by January.
Last year DPS was budgeted for $5.1 million in expenditures and this year it will be $5.7 million, according to Couch.
Using fund reserves in anticipation of the sales tax revenue, the FY-05 budget funded a significant increase in DPS staffing with the addition of a communications supervisor, CIU sergeant, fire division sergeant, three public safety officers and three school resource officers. A $2,000 pay increase for all sergeants and an increase in officers' annual uniform allowance were also included.
Funding for these positions, salaries and benefits are retained in the FY-06 budget. Two additional positions were added at DPS as well: a captain's position and an emergency management coordinator.
Also, a number of projects were completed in FY-05 to improve working conditions at DPS headquarters.
To provide additional space for DPS staff at headquarters, municipal court offices were relocated. This included the renovation of the city collector's office to facilitate the relocation of the court clerks to City Hall and the remodeling of the former MAB Paint building to create a new municipal courtroom.
The department of public works committed a total of more than 500 man hours and expended $29,000 for materials for this portion of the DPS headquarters renovation.
Also included in the headquarters renovation project was funding for roof repairs amounting to $70,000 and $98,000 for heating/air conditioning repairs.
In FY-06, $541,000 has been earmarked for public safety capital improvement purchases.
Elsewhere, $1.6 million was approved for transportation tax fund expenditures providing $1.3 million for the city's annual street improvement program and $300,000 for street chemicals, fuel and construction materials.
No significant staffing changes will be made in FY-06. Total full-time staffing for the city was only increased by the two public safety positions for a total of 127 full-time positions as compared with 125 in FY-05.
Seven part-time positions are retained: five in public safety and two in public works.
Within the Department of Administrative Services, the position of human resource officer was eliminated and the clerk's position formerly associated with human resources was transferred to the finance/deputy city clerk division.
Within the Department of Public Works the positions of director and animal control officer are retained but not funded. The public works administrative position will be transferred to the Department of Governmental Services.