Less reserves may be needed to balance Crestwood’s 2009 budget

Drop of 10 percent reported in revenue from fines so far

By EVAN YOUNG

As the Crestwood Board of Aldermen deliberates over a budget for 2010, officials say the city may not use as much cash to balance the 2009 budget as it initially expected.

During a recent presentation of third-quarter finances, City Administrator Jim Eckrich told aldermen he anticipates the city’s capital improvement fund won’t need help from cash reserves to balance 2009 revenues with expenditures.

The capital improvement fund reported third-quarter revenues of $683,422 and $550,439 in expenditures, a surplus of $132,983. So far this year, the fund has realized $1,469,800; spent $1,350,419; and currently is operating with a $119,381 surplus.

The city budgeted 2009 capital improvement revenues of $2,310,976 and expenditures of $2,513,892.

While aldermen initially approved the use of cash reserves to make up the budgeted $202,916 deficit, Eckrich said city staff did a projection of the capital improvement fund through the rest of the year, and he doesn’t anticipate using any cash to balance the fund.

Under capital improvement fund revenues, investments brought in $1,064 during the third quarter and have generated $2,769 this year. Finance Officer Douglas Brewer said he expected earnings would fall short of the $30,000 budgeted for 2009. However, he added that the loss would be offset by more than $29,000 the city received through the sale of public works vehicles.

Elsewhere, the city’s general fund took in $1,603,932 and spent $2,003,730 in the third quarter, a negative difference of $399,798. Year-to-date general fund revenues were reported at $6,397,010 with expenditures of $6,786,419, creating an operating deficit of $389,409.

The 2009 budget calls for $8,687,805 in general fund revenues and $9,467,975 in expenditures, as well as the use of $780,170 in cash to balance the fund at the end of the fiscal year.

Brewer said he noticed a 10-percent drop in year-to-date fines and forfeitures revenue — municipal-court revenue such as traffic ticket fines and court costs — from 2008. The city collected $74,097 in fines during the third quarter and has brought in $255,024 this year. However, at this point in 2008, Crestwood realized third-quarter fines of $83,040 and had collected $276,829 overall.

Court officials discovered that there have been 569 less court cases during the first nine months of 2009 than there were in 2008, Brewer said. The city saw 3,198 cases during the first nine months of 2008 and 2,629 cases so far this year.

In addition, while there were 425 active court cases as of Sept. 30, 2008, that number spiked to 1,129 as of Sept. 30 of this year, Brewer said.

“What that means is that there are additionally 704 cases that have not been disposed,” he said. “What does that mean? Well, according to the court administrator, the judge and the city clerk who supervises the court, there are probably more people on payment plans, given the economic conditions. In addition to possible payment plans, there are 113 more warrants issued for nonpayment or failure to appear this year than the same period last year.”

As with the capital improvement fund, investments within the general fund are expected to fall short of budget expectations.

Investments earned $194 during the third quarter and have brought in $8,021 so far this year. Brewer anticipates they will reach roughly $10,000 by the end of the year but will fall short of the $40,000 budgeted.

Under general fund debt service, the city was budgeted to make $102,952 in interest payments in 2009. However, Brewer said the $55,575 paid toward interest so far this year is about $47,000 less than what was scheduled.

Crestwood refinanced its debt in 2006 through a seven-year, tax-exempt “annual appropriation note” with Royal Banks of Missouri. However, due to an Internal Revenue Service cash-balance provision that retains the loan’s tax-exempt status, the city has had to make extra principal payments since 2007.

That, however, has reduced the city’s interest payments, Brewer said.

“You’ll remember we had to pay $865,000 extra (principal) on the annual appropriation note which is commonly called Prop S in the city,” the finance officer told the board. “So once the city did that at the beginning of the year, that changed the amortization schedule for the rest of the year.”

During the third quarter, the park and stormwater fund spent $591,888, which is $135,527 more than the $456,361 it took in. The fund so far has realized $1,531,099 and spent $2,050,901, an operating deficit of $519,802. The 2009 budget calls for park and stormwater revenue of $1,936,700 and expenditures of $2,403,055.

Brewer said not all of the expected 2009 park and stormwater fund revenue has come in, and added that he hopes the nearly $520,000 negative balance will turn around by December.

But he reminded the board that it approved the use of cash — $466,355 is budgeted — to balance the fund.