Green Park’s fund balance to drop slightly below $3.5 million in 2007

Former alderman criticizes pay raise for city administrator

By BURKE WASSON

The city of Green Park’s fund balances will dip below $3.5 million in 2007, but not by much.

Aldermen adopted an ordinance last week approving the city’s 2007 budget, which includes a final combined balance at the end of the year of $3,470,963 in the general and capital-improvements funds. But with $440,000 reserved for contingencies in the general fund, the city’s combined unreserved fund balance by the end of 2007 is projected to be $3,030,963. As of Nov. 30, the city’s combined fund balance totaled $3,548,405.67.

Of that budgeted total fund balance by the end of 2007, the general fund is projected to have a balance of $2,990,640, and the capital-improvements fund is budgeted to have a $480,523 balance by the end of the year.

The 2007 budget will include $1,221,300 in revenue in the general fund, which is more than the city’s 2006 estimate of $1,077,333 in revenue in that fund.

Expenditures in the 2007 general fund are budgeted at $1,009,800, which is more than the $678,617 projected to be spent in that fund by the end of 2006.

In the capital-improvements fund, the city is projecting a net loss in 2007. The Green Park administration has budgeted $380,000 in revenue toward the capital-improvements fund in 2007 and $410,000 in expenditures. That $30,000 loss will drop the city’s fund balance in its capital-improvements fund from $510,323 to $480,323.

Of revenues generated in the general fund, the areas in which the city is budgeted to earn the most dollars are $330,000 in sales tax, $200,000 in federal grants and $170,000 in utility taxes for electric service.

The city’s sales-tax revenue is expected to finish 2006 at $340,478, which is more than the originally budgeted figure for this year of $320,000 and 2005’s final sales-tax revenue of $339,266.

The three highest expenditures in the general fund are identified as $233,000 in police services, $200,000 in specialized engineering services and $150,000 in road maintenance. The $150,000 in road maintenance is more than twice the $67,513 that is anticipated to be spent for road work by the end of 2006. That road maintenance includes snow and tree removal, striping, signs, potholes, patching and right-of-way acquisition.

Next year’s budget also includes a pay raise for all city employees who received a minimum evaluation rating of “fully satisfactory.” That measure was approved 4-0 last week, with Ward 1 Alderman Judy Betlach abstaining and Ward 3 Alderman Mark Hayden absent.

Betlach said she abstained because she did not have any input on employees’ evaluations, and therefore does not believe she should have a say in their raises.

Former Ward 2 Alderman Fred Hoehn told the board last week that because he believes the Green Park Road redevelopment project has been poorly planned, City Administrator/City Clerk Diana Mize does not deserve a raise.

“I don’t think the city administrator, or the city clerk, should be considered for a pay increase,” Hoehn said. “In fact, I think that particular slot should have a written reprimand put in the file because that thing is sloppy and the administrator signed off on it. And, of course, the mayor signed off on it.

“But you rely on the administration. This is very, very, very bad. You’re talking about two-and-a-half million dollars. And the thing is wide open. I go down to East-West Gateway (Council of Governments) and poke holes in it. I don’t have to poke holes. I could walk through it. And I don’t even know why it went that far down there. I hope that’s not the tip of the iceberg down there. Because if it is, there should be some people down there cashiered and gotten rid of.”

Mayor Steve Armstrong told aldermen last week that East-West Gateway has approved all documentation for a federal grant paying 80 percent of the Green Park Road project’s estimated $2.2 million cost.

The mayor also said the Weis Design Group, which is engineering the project along Green Park Road from Tesson Ferry Road to Lin Valle Drive, is moving forward with preliminary design plans.

Engineer Paul Weis has said he would like to present right-of-way and easement estimates in the spring to aldermen. At that time, the city would then have the responsibility to collect the appropriate signatures from owners of property needed to be altered to complete the project.

Hoehn contended that the redesign of Green Park Road should have a minimum of three lanes, instead of widening each of the two existing lanes by two feet apiece. He pointed to a 1997 study by Crawford, Bunte, Brammeier that recommends three lanes during the Alpha Industrial Park’s third phase, which is its current status.

“Widening that road in each lane two feet will accomplish nothing,” Hoehn said. “Putting a curb in will only accomplish somebody jumping the curb or bouncing back head-on into somebody else in the other lane. This three-lane road will make it safer. The problem with it is the sight distance. You’re going to have to spend more money to make the road properly. And that’s what should have been asked for in the first place. To get this road proper.”

“Where do we get the extra property that would be required to make three lanes on Green Park Road?” Ward 2 Alderman Jackie Wilson said.

“You get it the same way that he talked about getting some of it now,” Hoehn said. “And if you can’t get it, then leave it alone and don’t waste two-and-a-half million bucks.”

Aldermen voted 5-0 at the board’s Dec. 18 meeting to pay for a traffic study of the road. Armstrong estimated that would cost the city $2,500.

In response to Armstrong’s statement that East-West Gateway had approved all documentation for a federal grant, Hoehn requested written confirmation, but was told there is none.

“You said everybody’s bought off on this,” Hoehn said to Armstrong. “Can I have the letter that shows that?”

“Pardon me?” Armstrong said.

“I want the letter that shows that East-West bought off on this,” Hoehn said.

“Uh, they verbally communicated it,” Armstrong said.

“OK, I want it in writing,” Hoehn said. “OK? Get it in writing for me because there’s some issues here that may go to litigation before this is all over.”

Hoehn further questioned why the city is not using more of its fund balance in excess of $3 million to pay for projects like a three-lane redesign of Green Park Road or free trash service.

“I cannot for the life of me understand why you people are sitting on all that money and you haven’t done anything to increase anything for the residents,” Hoehn said. “You can’t pay for the trash. You can’t increase the road building. You can’t this. You can’t that. By the time we’re done here, you’ll have $10 million and you’ll still be sitting here with your thumbs out of the sunshine. So I’m asking you people to start to use some better judgment.”

Armstrong said the Missouri Department of Transportation recently told him that more sight-distance requirements would be required to construct an additional right turn lane at the intersection of Green Park and Tesson Ferry roads. The mayor also told aldermen that Crawford, Bunte, Brammeier officials recently said while a proposed left-turn lane at the intersection with Antrill Drive might be a good idea, it would not be required. Armstrong said he shared numbers from a 2002 traffic report for CBB to make that determination.

Betlach and Hoehn then questioned why the most recent report included in the city’s grant request to East-West Gateway was from 1997.

Armstrong replied that East-West Gateway already has approved all of the city’s documents for the grant.