Deficit in general fund projected in proposed budget for Sunset Hills

General fund deficit reduced from $550,000, Havener says

By Mike Anthony

The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen last week conducted a first reading of a proposed 2014 budget that projects a deficit of more than $195,000 in the general fund.

The proposed general fund projects total revenues of $8,195,211 with anticipated expenditures of $8,391,196 — a deficit of $195,985. With a beginning general fund balance of $6,346,218, however, the city is projected to end 2014 with a general fund balance of $6,150,233.

Final approval of the 2014 budget will be considered when the Board of Aldermen meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, at City Hall, 3939 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

For 2014, total general fund revenues are projected to increase by $911,673 compared to 2013. Excluding grants, though, revenues are expected to increase by $64,804.

Total general fund expenditures are projected to increase by $1,394,796 compared to the previous year. However, excluding grants, expenditures are expected to increase by $471,693.

Ward 4 Alderman Art Havener serves as Finance Committee chairman.

Regarding the general fund, he said, “We are projecting a $236,000 surplus for 2013. When we began the budgeting process for 2014 a few months ago, we were looking at a 2014 deficit in the general fund of over $550,000. Some of the more meaningful challenges we are facing have been the separation and identification of the true ongoing expenses relating to operating the city on a day-to-day basis (and) the uncertainty that we face in respect to the health care and employee benefits and salaries.

“Our current projection, however, for 2014, shows a deficit of about $196,000. With the benefit of economic development in Sunset Hills, along with the re-alignment of expenses with their proper revenue streams, we were able to compress this deficit.

“The Finance Committee remains comfortable with this modest deficit projection, given the surplus that we generated in 2013, the current strong financial position of the city and the uncertainty surrounding future health care costs …,” Havener said.

For 2014, the proposed capital improvement fund anticipates expenditures of $1,291,207 with projected revenue of $990,500 — a deficit of $300,707.

With a beginning balance of $360,319, the capital improvement fund is projected to end 2014 with $59,612.

In August 2012, voters approved a permanent extension of the city’s half-cent, capital-improvement sales tax.

“… This is the first year that we have fully implemented the capital improvement sales-tax extension with the new fund. For 2013, we are projecting a capital improvement fund surplus of around $213,000,” Havener said. “This, in addition to the current balance surplus of $146,000, puts us with a total surplus heading into 2014 of about $360,000. This surplus has provided the Capital Improvement Committee the means and opportunity to develop a plan to add sidewalks throughout Sunset Hills, in addition to meeting the obligations listed in the five-year plan that was designed a year ago.

“I cannot emphasize enough the benefits and transparency that the capital improvement fund and the committee with (Ward 1 Alderman) Rich Gau, who’s the chair, offers the citizens of Sunset Hills. This is one of the greatest things, in my opinion.”

For 2014, city officials project revenues of $1,159,950 in the parks and stormwater fund with anticipated expenditures of $1,156,172 — a surplus of $3,778.

With a beginning balance of $1,365,330, the park and stormwater fund is projected to end 2014 with $1,369,330.