Golf, sewer fees to increase

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Those who frequent Cape Girardeau's Jaycee Municipal Golf Course will find the fees 5 percent over par soon.

And every resident inside Cape Girardeau will also notice a slightly higher sewer bill in the not-so-distant future.

Those add up to a $37,300 solution to what could be a $246,000 problem if sales tax revenue doesn't pick up.

The Cape Girardeau City Council amended and then approved the fiscal 2002-03 budget Monday night after several rounds of suggestions and lengthy discussion.

The council, uneasy about a budget that is based on a 3-percent sales-tax growth when the rate has been flat the last three years, moved to make the sewer and golf funds repay the principal on loans due the general fund.

Currently, the funds only pay interest. To pay the general fund, city documents say, fees at the golf course will have to increase by 5 percent and residents will see a 3/4-percent hike in their sewer rates.

This in addition to the council's approval Monday night to increase the water rate by 4 percent. The council also flirted with the idea of not giving city employees a 1-percent, across-the-board raise.

Morale issue

They decided, however, the benefit of saving $111,246 this year was not worth the cost of declining morale in the city workforce.

Councilman Jay Purcell, the only member in favor of postponing the raise, pleaded with the council to exclude the raise from the budget considering the $111,000 amount would cost the city double that in two years when step increases were given again.

Purcell also argued that even if the across-the-board raises were denied, two-thirds of the city's workers will receive a raise through step increases.

Of giving the 1-percent raise when recent economic history has proved poor and uncertain, Purcell said, "There's no way a business would do something like this."

Mayor Jay Knudtson stood by his argument that the city still has enough money in reserves to cover one more year of flat sales tax.

"In a $35 million budget, I have deep concerns about the message that you send trying to save $111,000," at the expense of the employees, Knudtson said.

To back up his argument, Knudtson used a study performed by the city that said employees of 95 percent of the city's positions were paid less than four other similar-sized cities in Missouri.

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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