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Fifteen give task force input on city finances and budget
Associated Press/George Nikitin
Patrick Zdunich, an aerospace engineer from the University of Tornonto, watched a robot fly that is being developed jointly with the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif. The project is among a handful aiming to engineer devices that can soar, dart and hover on gossamer wings that flap with a rhythm and precision otherwise found only in nature. By Tammy Raddle ~ Southeast Missourian
Fifteen people attended the final public forum for the Citizens Finance Task Force on Saturday, giving the task force some guidance in its attempt to solve Cape Girardeau's budget problems.
The conclusion was that the city should emphasize increasing economic development, improve public education on the budget and city needs, develop a comprehensive short- and long-term plan on budgeting and develop an expense reduction contingency plan to outline the impact of budget cuts on city services.
Those recommendations were in line with the recommendations of the two previous public meetings held on the subject.
Co-chairman of the task force, Melvin Gateley, said the basic problem facing the city is too little revenue and too many projects.
Barry Hovis of the Cape Girardeau Police Department, who made a PowerPoint presentation on the city's situation, noted that the budget crunch is largely a result of the downturn in the economy and the fact that Cape Girardeau is losing some of its sales tax revenue to Jackson and Sikeston.
Hovis said the task force has looked at several revenue-raising ideas, such as increasing the city's property tax or various user and permit fees or enacting a special purpose sales tax.
The idea of a local use tax has also been discussed. Such a tax would be made on the purchases of items from out-of-state vendors, as is the case in catalog and Internet sales. Bill Port, one of the Cape Gir-ardeau residents at the meeting, said he agreed with the idea of looking at ways to raise more money for the city, but he is concerned that the city hasn't developed a contingency plan for dealing with the budget if new revenue resources can't be found.
Port added that he feels the public needs to become better educated about the city's services and its budget.
"It seems to me that if we are going to talk about adding facilities, the public needs to see the need for them, and to understand what the options are," said Port.
Nancy Jernigan, who chairs the task force with Gateley, said the task force hopes to have its recommendations ready by the city council's Aug. 19 meeting.