South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

A dozen positions may be eliminated in Crestwood without cutting services


Executive Editor

Crestwood City Administrator Don Greer is recommending the elimination of a dozen city positions in an effort to reduce expenditures in the coming fiscal year.

Most of the positions would be eliminated through attrition, according to Greer, without impacting the level of services the city currently provides.

Greer’s comments were made Saturday morning during a meeting of the city’s Ways and Means Committee. The committee, comprised of Greer, Mayor Jim Robertson, Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood, Ward 3 Alderman Don Maddox and Assistant City Administrator Matt Conley began meeting in January to formulate a fiscal 2004 budget for the Board of Alder-men’s consideration. Director of Finance Diana Madrid, who was hired last month, also serves on panel.

At the panel’s first meeting Jan. 18, Greer reported that while the Board of Aldermen was led to believe the city’s general fund was balanced at the end of fiscal 2002, that was not the case.

“I have been led to believe that there were journal entries made to balance the general fund. By that I just simply mean that expenses were transferred into another fund to give an inaccurate ending fund balance. There’s no money missing or anything,” the city administrator said Jan. 18.

During the same meeting, Greer expressed concerns about the condition of the city’s general fund and outlined several recommendations to improve the fund’s position over the next two or three years.

In an April 10 memorandum to Robert-son and the board, Greer wrote, “We have since learned that we were, in fact, $260,000 short of balancing the general fund at the close of FY ’02.”

In October, city officials eliminated a number of operational expenses from the current budget after learning the “sharing” formula for sales tax had been adjusted using data from the 2000 U.S. Census, which resulted in less sales tax revenue for the city.

“I have adjusted our projections for sales tax receipts for this fiscal year to $4.1 million, nearly $50,000 less than what was received in FY ’02 and only $25,000 more than what was received in FY ’01,” Greer wrote. “Through March 2003 receipts, these revenues are within 1 percent — $42,000 — of our target.”

The current budget projects revenue of $8,637,476, but the city now anticipates receiving $85,501 less than that amount — or $8,551,975. For fiscal 2004, the city projects $8,455,478 in revenue.

“… We are projecting revenues for FY ’04 at a level $96,497 less than what we anticipate for the current fiscal year. While the anticipated revenues for FY ’03 are some $85,501 less than the revised budget amount, I am also projecting an expense position that is $280,000 less than budgeted. The net EOY (end-of-year) balance in the operating budget should be in the neighborhood of slightly more than $200,000,” Greer wrote.

In his memo, Greer suggests taking a “multi-faced approach” to addressing the city’s financial condition: “The first of which is to make permanent reductions in our expense position. I am not referring to reductions in minor accounts of operating expenses, but rather reductions in our largest burden in the general fund — personnel costs.”

Since January, Greer noted that he has been meeting with the heads of the various city departments in an effort to reduce costs without making a noticeable impact on services.

In the memorandum, reviewed in detail with the Ways and Means Committee Saturday morning, Greer outlined the proposed cost-cutting measures, including the elimination of a dozen or so positions:

• Police Department — “During FY ’03, two patrol officer positions were eliminated to assist in balancing the current budget. I have eliminated those positions permanently from consideration of refunding.”

Greer, who also serves as police chief, stated in his memo that he would recommend against any further personnel cuts in the department as cuts in sworn officers would result in the elimination of services and cuts in support staff “would become too burdensome on the remaining personnel and assumes a significant risk as to the quality of information and documentation.”

• Fire Department — Greer noted that an adjustment in the manner in which the department responds has been discussed and is being planned by Chief Karl Kestler.

Two primary objectives of the plan, Greer stated, include: “Adjusting and/or re-specifying the requirements for equipment — for example, replacement of pumper, rescue truck — in order to reduce the cost and improve the flexibility to equip each pumper with medical supplies for first response.

“By equipping and staffing the first-line pumpers in this manner, we will reduce the capital expenditure for the pumpers and eliminate the need to replace the rescue vehicle. Our goal is to respond medically equipped pumpers as a first-response vehicle,” the city administrator wrote.

“We will provide paramedics to the pumpers for initial response. The net result will be the reduction in staff of three firefighter positions,” Greer stated, noting one firefighter is scheduled to retire in August, a second is contemplating retirement and the third position will be reduced through attrition.

• Department of Public Works — Greer noted that the positions of health inspector and nuisance inspector are being “redefined.” The health inspector’s position was eliminated from the budget last Octo-ber for operating-cost reductions.

“It is my intention to continue to not fill that position, and having redefined the responsibilities, have the issue of nuisance inspections managed by a police officer,” Greer wrote.

• Department of Parks and Recreation — An administrative secretary position that was eliminated from the current budget has been removed from consideration for funding in fiscal 2004.

“The demands of the position of maintenance repair worker have exceeded our ability to maintain the generalist technical experience on staff,” Greer wrote. “A system of maintenance agreements would be more appropriate and less costly than continuing this position.”

• Street/Park Maintenance — “I am suggesting that we combine efforts in our maintenance functions … The net result is the additional reduction of six full-time positions from Street Maintenance and Park Operations. We will retain six full-time maintenance workers, and add appropriate seasonal help during the busiest times,” the city administrator wrote, adding that he intends to contract for a large part of grass cutting throughout the year.

“Early indications are that the (grass-cutting) work can be done under contract for less than the price of one maintenance worker, and we would need to maintain only minimal equipment,” he stated.

• Administration/Clerk/Finance/MIS — “I am suggesting that the position of assistant city administrator be eliminated,” Greer wrote. “I am of the opinion that it is an unnecessary operational cost to the city. I am also suggesting that a position identified as an assistant to the city administrator for planning and economic development be established.

“My research indicates that an appropriate job value for this position is around $49,000 annually, or 18.1 percent — $11,200 — lower than the current position of assistant city administrator,” Greer wrote.

The administrator also noted that with the creation of the reception station in the lobby of City Hall, it is possible to eliminate one of the part-time positions in the City Clerk’s Office.

“I will be moving one or more of the administrative secretaries into the clerk’s office this spring and believe that this configuration will suffice given the additional duties they will face shortly,” Greer wrote. “As we move more in line with automation, archiving and storage/retrieval of data and records, it becomes necessary to offer additional support to the clerk’s office and designate that office as having the primary responsibility for creating that archive.”

No changes currently are planned for the Finance Department, which is staffed by Madrid, an accounts payable clerk and a payroll clerk. “Their burden is large and my demands gaining,” Greer wrote.

The city administrator wrote that he does not plan any personnel changes to the Municipal Court.

However, Greer does plan “a number of operational changes that are intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the court; reducing docket size and enhancing revenue receipts” by possibly accepting partial payments of fines and accepting credit card payment for fines.

“The Department of MIS presents itself with maintaining and enhancing our automated needs,” Greer wrote. “It is currently staffed by the MIS director who maintains our network and Internet connections, builds our computers, and will soon maintain our phone system, and an Internet design specialist who is building our new website enabling closer and more timely, accurate and complete communications between the city and our residents.”

Noting the “efficiencies” he has listed, Greer wrote, “I believe I will be in a position to present an annual budget that offers a positive ending balance on June 30, 2004; by definition anticipated expenses for the year do not exceed anticipated revenues.”

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