Sikeston city government to dip into reserves

Thursday, June 18, 2009

SIKESTON, Mo. -- The city of Sikeston will spend just more than $1 million in reserve funds to make ends meet in the next fiscal year.

The city council approved a budget for fiscal year 2010, which runs from July 1 to June 30, 2010, during its special meeting Monday morning.

With revenue projected at $14,142,593 and expenditures budgeted at $15,212,761, fiscal year 2010 is looking at a shortfall of $1,070,168.

"The FY-10 Budget has been prepared in keeping with the commitments made to taxpayers upon the passage of the One Cent Sales Tax in 2004," wrote city manager Doug Friend in the budget message.

The commitments are reflected in a $300,000 payment for the multimillion-dollar expansion of Southeast Missouri State University's Sikeston campus, $135,000 for the Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority and full funding for the Department of Public Safety.

The Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority has received more than $1.5 million in city funding since 2004, Friend noted, and the Department of Public Safety "remains at full staffing levels with ongoing replacement of capital equipment."

The city has about $5.7 million in total reserves available, according to city clerk Carroll Couch.

The city will eventually receive reimbursements for a lot of the budgeted expenditures of fiscal year 2010 from grants and from Federal Emergency Management Agency and State Emergency Management Agency for expenses related to the January ice storm.

The budget includes about $2.2 million the city will later recover through reimbursable grants, according to Linda Lowes, director of governmental services.

The two largest reimbursable grants are an airport improvement grant which will include moving a 1,000-foot stretch of Campanella to bring the airport into compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations regarding airspace around the airport and a Safe Route to School Program grant which will build a sidewalk from Southeast Elementary to the 5th and 6th Grade Center.

As the city will have to wait about 18 months for reimbursement from FEMA and SEMA for the costs of removing ice storm debris, the city has budgeted $365,000 to pay the contractor, according to Friend's budget message.

About 47 percent of the expenditures are salaries and overtime for personnel, according to Lowes. She explained the city is "a service-oriented organization and therefore has a lot of personnel costs."

Another major expenditure is the $600,000 for the Street and Storm Water Drainage Improvement Program, Lowes said.

"On the revenue side, fiscal year 2010 finds Sikeston experiencing the same economic downturn found throughout the country," Friend's budget message advises. "With increased unemployment and uncertain economic conditions, both nationally and regionally, sales tax revenues continue their decline for the fourth consecutive year."

Friend's budget message ends by stating that "every effort is being made to maximize the use of tax dollars while maintaining appropriate levels of service for Sikeston's residents. As economic conditions improve, the city will work to accumulate financial reserves to facilitate the undertaking of high-impact projects as well as the mitigation of less-than-favorable economic conditions or disaster/recovery situations that occur within our city."

Also approved along with the budget was the bill setting staffing levels and compensation for the coming fiscal year.

The total number of positions for city staff was increased from 131 to 207. This includes an increase of one full-time position (tourism director) and 75 seasonal positions (67 youth participants and eight supervisors for the LCRA Summer Mowing Program).

The compensation ordinance does provide for merit raises but does not include a cost-of-living increase for city employees.

Pertinent addresses:

Sikeston, Mo.

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