Crestwood officials eye balanced budget for ’12

Final payment on Aquatic Center debt set to be made in 2012, Eckrich writes.

By EVAN YOUNG

Crestwood officials last week sent the city’s Ways and Means Committee a balanced 2012 budget.

As proposed by acting City Administrator/Director of Public Services Jim Eckrich, the 2012 Crestwood budget projects $11,124,004 in revenue and $11,048,251 in expenditures — a $75,753 surplus — by Dec. 31, 2012.

The city’s 2011 budget calls for the use of $249,307 in cash reserves to balance it.

Besides a projected budget surplus, the city is expected to be debt-free by next year. Eckrich wrote in his budget message the final payment on roughly $8.5 million in certificates of participation, or COPs, issued in 2001 to fund the construction of Crestwood’s Aquatic Center, will be made in 2012.

The city will make the final principal and interest payment on the COPs of $1,055,750 on April 1, with $850,000 of that already held in escrow, Eckrich wrote.

“As this will be the last budget created under my direction, I would like to point out that the city has made marked improvements in the management of its finances over the last three years,” stated Eckrich, who soon will return to his former position of director of public services after serving as city administrator since 2008. “The city has reduced expenditures, created a comprehensive and reasonable five-year plan and eliminated its long-term debt.

“While these are successes of the city, and not me personally, I am proud to have been a part of them.”

However, Eckrich believes that while revenues will increase slightly over the next five years, they cannot keep up with a projected 2-percent annual increase in expenditures.

“The pattern of expenditures outpacing revenues threatens the long-term financial security of the city …,”he wrote.

He noted that collection of the Proposition S property tax will cease after this year. Ballot language for Prop S, which Crestwood voters approved in 2006, allows the tax to be collected through 2012, but the Board of Aldermen voted last year to sunset the tax after 2011 due to the early retirement of the associated debt.

Eckrich remains optimistic that Crestwood Court’s owners will move forward with plans to redevelop the mall, and that news of such a project “will encourage retailers to quickly fill those vacant spaces around the mall, specifically Sappington Square.”

“The city of Crestwood will need to ensure the Crestwood Court development is a success in order to improve our future sales tax revenues,” he wrote.

The city’s general fund is projected to take in $7,966,004 and spend $8,146,814 in 2012. The resulting $180,810 shortfall will be offset by a $201,543 transfer from the park and stormwater fund, leaving a $20,733 surplus.

The general fund’s balance is projected to be at $2,058,000 on Jan. 1 and $2,078,733 on Dec. 31, 2012.

General fund expenditures are expected to increase by $56,000 in 2012. No employee raises are budgeted for next year. However, the budget takes into account a 15-percent cost increase for employee health insurance and an 8-percent cost increase for dental insurance.

The capital improvement fund is projected to receive $1,201,000 in revenues and spend $1,200,543 next year. Coupled with a $50,000 transfer from the park and stormwater fund, the capital improvement fund is projected to end the year with a $50,457 surplus.

The fund’s balance is projected to be at $790,000 on Jan. 1 and at $840,457 on Dec. 31, 2012. Included in the capital improvement fund’s 2012 revenues is $116,000 in grants, specifically an 80-percent grant for design and right-of-way costs associated with phases one and two of the Spellman Avenue reconstruction project.

Major 2012 capital improvement fund expenditures include: $30,000 for the Fire Department; $86,000 for the Police Department, including two vehicles; $56,500 for information systems; $718,983 for an asphalt mill and overlay project; $145,000 for the Spellman Avenue reconstruction project, or $29,000 after the grant; $53,000 in building maintenance and $115,400 for public works vehicles and equipment. Of the $50,457 projected surplus in the capital improvement fund, $50,000 will be reserved for the future purchase of a fire truck.

The park and stormwater fund is projected to end 2012 with a $4,563 surplus after taking in $1,816,750 in revenue, spending $1,560,644 and making a total transfer of $251,543 to the general and capital improvement funds.

The fund is projected to have a $393,000 cash balance on Jan. 1 and a $397,563 balance on Dec. 31, 2012.

With the expected retirement of the Aquatic Center COPs, the park and stormwater fund in 2012 will begin repaying the general and capital improvement funds the moneys advanced to it the last two years to make debt payments. The park and stormwater fund received $626,543 from the general fund and $900,000 from the capital improvement fund. Both funds should be fully reimbursed by March 2015, according to a payment schedule included with the budget.