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

Budgeted 2008 deficit up again in Crestwood

Mayor Robinson ‘strongly objects’ to three aldermen meeting with staff

A week after a projected 2008 deficit of nearly $250,000 in Crestwood’s three major funds was slashed by nearly $87,000, that projected deficit has spiraled back up to more than $202,700.

A city panel initially had reduced the projected 2008 deficit of $249,875 in the three major funds to $163,223, but a budget review by the city’s administration and the Ways and Means Committee last week brought that deficit back up to $202,723.

The administration planned to present the proposed 2008 budget to the Board of Aldermen Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

Among the budget additions requested by the Ways and Means Committee, comprised of Mayor Roy Robinson, Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel and Ward 4 Alderman John Foote, are:

• $99,460 retained in the budget for one 2.5-ton dump truck after the committee initially recommended its removal. The proposed 2008 budget has the purchase of two such dump trucks earmarked.

• $30,000 for “any legal services rendered through the redevelopment process for the Crestwood Mall.”

• $18,000 retained in the budget for two seasonal park workers after the administration recommended cutting those two positions.

• $8,000 for “additional professional services associated with the redevelopment of the Crestwood Mall.”

• $1,200 as a stipend for a resident manager in the city’s historic-facilities budget

• $900 to allow the city’s municipal court to transfer detainees with “mental-health conditions” to St. Louis County.

The committee also recommended the following cuts from the 2008 budget:

• $25,000 for a new phone system at the Crestwood Government Center.

• $3,000 to hire an outside consultant for annual strategic-planning sessions. The Ways and Means Committee recommended that City Administrator Frank Myers facilitate discussion at next year’s sessions.

As of last week, deficits are projected in each of the city’s three major funds — the general fund, capital-improvements fund and park and stormwater fund. Projected deficits are $7,018 in the general fund, $65,868 in the capital-improvements fund and $129,838 in the park and stormwater fund. To balance these deficits, Myers has recommended using the city’s reserves, which he projects will reach more than $3 million by the end of 2007.

In all three funds combined for 2008, the city projects $12,580,179 in revenues and $12,800,434 in expenditures. The budget also accounts for a total of $17,532 in transfers among the three funds.

The general fund anticipates revenue of $9,006,930 and expenditures of $9,079,948.

The general fund will benefit from a $155,000 transfer from the capital-im-provements fund and also transfer $89,000 to the park and stormwater fund.

The capital-improvements fund now is projected to see $1,467,702 in revenue and $1,378,570 in expenditures. That fund also will transfer $155,000 to the general fund.

The park and stormwater fund is expected to receive $2,105,547 in revenue and spend $2,341,916. That fund will be supplemented by a transfer of $89,000 from the general fund and $17,532 from the performing-arts fund, which is now defunct.

Among the budgeted expenditures for 2008 is a $471,317 principal and interest payment out of the general fund to the city’s seven-year annual-appropriation note with Royal Banks of Missouri. That note, approved in October 2006 by aldermen, transferred the city’s remaining $2.87 million in debt at that time from a promissory note and line of credit with Southwest Bank to Royal Banks of Missouri.

This year, the city paid $553,708 in principal for that note, which is funded from Proposition S — a seven-year, 20-cent-per-$100 of assessed valuation tax-rate increase designed to pay off the city’s debt and approved by voters in April 2006.

Myers also has factored a loss of $340,000 in sales-tax revenue in the city’s 2008 budget because of Dillard’s recent closing at the Westfield Shoppingtown Crestwood.

He also included a continuing “downward trend” in the city’s sales-tax revenues, which account for 53 percent of the city’s overall budget.

To facilitate the Board of Aldermen’s review of the budget, Miguel, Foote and Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder met last week with Myers and Assistant City Administrator Brian Gross to discuss the upcoming 2007 third-quarter financial report and ways to present the 2008 budget to aldermen. The end of that discussion, Myers said, focused on the presentation of the budget, including lists of proposed cuts and additions made by both the administration and Ways and Means Committee.

Robinson, however, objected to the meeting because he did not approve of it and because it included discussion of presenting the lists of cuts and additions before he had seen it. Those lists were presented last week to the Ways and Means Committee one day after the private meeting took place.

“We’ll reduce it down to two lists and we should expedite this and read through it a lot quicker and expeditiously,” Foote said. “I think it’s the most sensible way to approach this problem. And it wasn’t designed to override the Ways and Means. It was merely suggested because of the condition of the city and because of the request from the department heads, we find a systematic way for review.”

“Well, the only problem is … if you’re meeting for financial review, I don’t see how you get into what the Ways and Means and how you’re presenting things to the board,” Robinson said. “I strongly object to these meetings without me being there to go along with it. You all don’t set the agenda. You listen to what we have to present to you.”

“Your honor is correct,” Miguel said. “This needs to go on the side. This is a review item. We need to get through this before we deal with how we’re going to present the findings of this board to the Board of Aldermen. And that’s what this is.”

“Well, but you all don’t make that decision how we present it to the board,” Robinson said. “OK?”

Administrative intern Christal Laswell, who completed the lists the morning of last week’s Ways and Means meeting, confirmed that the only discussion of these cuts and additions at the private meeting was of how to make them more understandable for aldermen.

“There were suggestions on how to make this more readable for the board,” she said.

“Well, how did they know if they didn’t see it?” Robinson said.

“Roy, when we talked about this, this was not in evidence.” Foote said. “What was involved was a way to present it so that it was easy. And probably, Jerry and I are out of order. We’re trying to streamline this.

“This is the first time you’ve seen it. We’re not trying to run it behind your back. All we’re trying to do is get it to where we have it now. And you have an opportunity.”

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