Cape County faces hard money choices in 2009 budget

Monday, September 22, 2008

Balancing the difference between an expected 3.5 percent pay increase for employees and the ongoing drop in retail sales tax revenue may present the biggest challenge to Cape Girardeau County as the 2009 budget is formulated.

County commissioners are in the process of reviewing projections in advance of formal budget hearings later this year.

Senior deputy auditor Virgie Koeppel told the commissioners her projections were based on such factors as the rising prices for groceries and gasoline as well as historical data.

She said she kept her estimate for 2009 taxes the same as 2008’s because "I didn’t want it to be negative."

She said she was not sure the county would be able to fund an across-the-board 3.5 percent payroll increase, as has been the standard over the last several years. But she also suggested that 2008 has been glum for a number of reasons that may not recur next year.

"This has been a bad year — we had the floods, ice [storms], crops are bad," she said. "Farmers are holding onto crops and taxes are down. Groceries and gas are up."

She said the county’s estimated 2009 revenue is $10.8 million.

In other action, the commissioners approved:

A cooperative bid with Cape Special Road District on asphalt for a portion of County Road 244, for $81,000.

The request by Margaret Yates, representing the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission, for more than $7,000 in funding for the Public Water District No. 5 grant.

For more on this story, revisit seMissourian.com or read Tuesday’s Southeast Missourian’s print edition.

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