Crestwood panel discusses capital, parks funds for upcoming fiscal year

By MIKE ANTHONY

Executive Editor

Preliminary fiscal 2004 budgets for the capital improvements fund and the parks and stormwater fund recently were discussed by the Crestwood Ways and Means Committee.

City Administrator Don Greer outlined projected revenues and expenditures for the two funds during a meeting Saturday morning.

The committee, comprised of Greer, May-or Jim Robertson, Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood, Ward 3 Alderman Don Maddox, Assistant City Administrator Matt Conley and Director of Finance Diana Madrid, discussed the preliminary budgets for the two funds at length during the meeting, which lasted more than two hours.

For the capital improvements fund, total revenues of $2,209,795 are anticipated for fiscal 2004, including a beginning fund bal-ance of $291,030, while total expenditures are projected at $2,010,079. A fund balance of $199,716 is projected on June 30, 2004.

During his presentation, the city administrator noted that the anticipated ending balance for the current fiscal year — $197,090 — is $125,736 less than was projected in the approved fiscal 2003 budget. In addition, projected revenue for the half-cent capital improvement sales tax is $203,843 less than originally projected for the current fiscal year.

Given that, total available revenue for fiscal 2003 is $329,579 less than originally projected in the approved budget for the current fiscal year.

While estimated revenues for the current fiscal year have declined, so have projected expenditures. The approved fiscal 2003 budget anticipates total expenditures of $1,778,000 in the capital improvements fund. That amount has been reduced to $1,702,217 — $75,783 less than the amount in the approved fiscal 2003 budget.

Among the projected street program expenditures in the preliminary fiscal 2004 capital improvements fund are: $375,000 for street reconstruction, $55,000 for contracted slab work, $70,000 for mill and overlay, $180,000 for microsurfacing and $114,000 for street supplies.

Also included in proposed expenditures are transfers to the general fund totaling $384,599 designed to reimburse the general fund for costs associated with capital improvement projects.

In addition, payments on the $9.83 million in bond-like certificates of participation the city issued last year to fund the construction of a new police station and improvements to City Hall will total $731,480 in fiscal 2004. When the certificates are retired in fiscal 2023, the city will have paid a total of $4,844,505 in interest on the certificates, bringing their total cost to $14,674,505.

While no objections were voiced to proposals for the preliminary fiscal 2004 capital improvements fund, Maddox voiced some concerns about proposed expenditures in the preliminary parks and storm-water fund.

For the parks and stormwater fund, total revenues of $2,729,853 are anticipated for fiscal 2004, including a beginning fund balance of $445,319, while total expenditures are projected at $2,347,865. A fund balance of $381,988 is projected on June 30, 2004.

While the anticipated ending balance of $1,168,597 for the current fiscal year remains unchanged from the original budget, revenue from the half-cent parks and stormwater sales tax is projected at $3,324,582 — $245,019 less than anticipated in the original fiscal 2003 budget.

However, anticipated expenditures for the current fiscal year total $1,792,970 — $17,970 more than anticipated in the original fiscal 2003 budget.

One the projected expenditures in the preliminary fiscal 2004 parks and stormwater fund totals $165,000 for curb and gutter work — something Maddox contended did not adhere to the intent of the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in August 2000.

Greer said, “In the expenditures under parks and stormwater, I am recommending that we capture the costs associated with the curbs and gutters. My rationale behind it is to get the maximum amount of street work done that we can get done. Curbs and gutters exist for the sole purpose of controlling stormwater. That’s the only reason that it exists and I think it’s an appropriate expense. If we don’t do that, I’m going to have to reduce the amount of street work we do because the capital im-provements fund is not going to be able to withstand that long term. So that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

Maddox said he objected to the using parks and stormwater funds for curbs and gutters.

“It’s not what the people voted for. People did not vote for gutters and curbs. That’s not what they voted for. The bottom line is it’s just a breach of trust,” Maddox said.

He later added, “They were promised some things and they got the aquatic center, but the people that voted for stormwater improvements, they didn’t vote for curbs and gutters.”

Three stormwater projects are proposed for fiscal 2004, including $30,000 for a project at Lodge Pole and Rusdon, $50,000 for a project at Craigwood and Fieldcrest and $40,000 for a project at Pine Spray and Spellman.

Also included in proposed expenditures are transfers to the general fund totaling $826,372 designed to reimburse the general fund for costs associated with parks and stormwater projects, park operations and the operation of the aquatic center.

In addition, payments on the $8.495 million in certificates of participation issued in 2001 to fund the construction of the new aquatic center will total $1,083,993 in fiscal 2004. When the certificates are re-tired in fiscal 2012, the city will have paid a total of $2,699,231.46 in interest on the certificates, bringing their total cost to $11,194,231.46.

Maddox also voiced objections to Greer’s recommendation that the city formulate a master plan for all of the city’s parks, noting that master plans already have been completed on two of the city’s biggest parks — Whitecliff and Crestwood. An amount of $50,000, which Greer termed “a guess,” was included in projected fiscal 2004 expenditures for the master plan.

“I do not agree with the manner in which we’ve approached our assessment of our parks and park improvements and have discussed with both the Park Board and the director of parks and recreation my desire to see the city enter into a very comprehensive master plan …,” he said, noting such a plan would involve input from residents.

Maddox said, “… We’ve got two master plans for the two main parks. The rest of the parks are pocket parks. Why do we need a master plan that costs $50,000?”

Greer said his estimate of $50,000 was “a guess” and if the master plan cost $20,000, that’s what would be spent.

“How would you suggest that we decide what we do with those parks or do you think we don’t need to do anything with them?” Greer said.

Maddox replied, “I would suggest looking at them. Don’t we have anybody that’s competent to look at a park and decide how it should be used? And if we don’t … then why do we have a parks department and why do we have a parks board if we can’t decide how to use pocket parks and to develop them?”

Greer said he believed that a master plan would enable city officials to learn what the residents of the neighborhoods in which the parks are located would like to see done at those parks.

“… I think those five parks are worthy of a comprehensive look so that we can plan long term as to what it is that we want to try to accomplish …,” he said. “I have a problem with us always thinking that we’re the experts, particularly when you come to parks and recreation and neighborhood parks … If we’re not responding to the expectations of the community, then we’re missing the boat. You know, we don’t sit up here and dictate.”

After further discussion, Maddox said, “… I’d like to see the effort done by staff before we go outside, all right?”

Greer said, “And I don’t disagree with that, at all.”

He had noted earlier, “If I’m not satisfied with the quality of the work that we’ve done, I’ll be right back at you, asking you to amend the budget so I can hire somebody.”