City revenue team ready to present ideas on budget

Monday, May 6, 2002

The Cape Girardeau City Council will hear a formal presentation from the revenue team tonight, a group of city employees who have been working at finding solutions to increase the city's revenue for more than six months.

The council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and will take place at the council chambers at city hall.

The revenue team met Tuesday with the city's budget team -- which consists of department heads -- and according to city manager Mike Miller, the meeting was "very productive."

Other than requesting that more background information be included in the presentation, the budget team supported the revenue team's plan, said Tim Gramling, who is among four who are in charge of Monday night's presentation.

Neither Miller nor Gramling would go into specifics about Monday night's presentation.

Meeting every two weeks

Gramling said the revenue team -- which was organized in October --has been meeting every two weeks over the last few of months. He said the 12 to 15 team members all received input from citizens on what kinds of revenue increases would be more acceptable.

Gramling said the consensus was that the citizens favored an increase to user fees on taxes that were spread out among the most people. He said citizens seemed to frown upon taxes aimed at a specific group.

"Active listening helped weed out a few of the ideas that were not favorable," Gramling said. "Then we discussed the whole picture, how each idea would benefit the city and the citizens and how the public would perceive each of the revenue sources."

The revenue team has discussed many possibilities, including new sales taxes, increased property taxes and a hike in user fees.

The city is seeking more revenue after operating in the red the last two years and anticipating to do so again in the fiscal year 2001.

City leaders say the city's sales tax, which is the biggest source for revenue, has not grown at the rate of inflation. Poor economic conditions, an increase in online sales, and the opening of large discount stores in nearby cities have also hurt the city's revenue, they say.

Depending on the council's support of the presentation, the next step for the revenue team would be to inform the public of the need for increased revenue and what the tax will pay for, Gramling said.

"We're very interested in getting in front of the public, explaining how the money will be used and where it will go," Gramling said.

Highway discussion

Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce president John Mehner will make a presentation to the council at Monday night's study session to inform the council about the opportunity of funding a study that could lead to a major east-west highway coming through Cape Girardeau.

The study session begins at 5 p.m.

According to information provided by Miller, the idea of a Transamerica Transportation Corridor (Interstate 66) has been tossed around by lawmakers since 1989. The corridor would join Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Navada and California.

Virginia and West Virginia have completed feasibility studies refining the location of the corridor leading into Kentucky. Kentucky has completed its study, but is focusing on an exit to Missouri at Wickliffe, Ky.

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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