Sunset Hills board adopts ’05 budget

By SCOTT MILLER

Staff Reporter

Minnie Ha Ha Park is getting a facelift and the Police Department will be fully staffed under the fiscal 2005 budget unanimously approved by the Sunset Hills Board of Alderman.

City officials plan to deficit spend by roughly $380,000 in 2005 with general revenues estimated at about $5.7 million and general fund expenditures at nearly $6.09 million.

But fiscal 2004 also originally was projected to be a deficit year, but now revenues actually exceed expenditures by nearly $480,000, according to estimated end-of-year numbers provided by City Hall. Rev-enues increased nominally, but expenditures were cut $976,813.

“The biggest part of that (cut) was public works deferring road projects to 2005,” City Clerk Laura Rider told the Call. “It will be reallocated. They were going to do them this year but decided to wait until 2005.”

Public works accounted for $500,596 of the cut and public safety generated the remaining $476,217. Both of those cuts are restored in the fiscal 2005 budget, however, Rider said.

“Salaries were a big part of that (public safety expenditure decrease),” she said. “They (the Police Department) had some turnover this year and newer, younger people were working. We had some retirements and stuff like that. During parts of 2004, they weren’t fully staffed. They do have their regular staffing allowance for 2005 though.”

The department has 24 officers and seven civilian employees.

Rider said the city won’t need to hire more officers. The Police Department be-gan restoring prior staff levels in the fall, she said.

Also, parks will receive $154,903 more this year than last, with the majority — roughly $100,000 — funding improvements to the new Minnie Ha Ha Park on Old Gravois Road near the Meramec River, Rider said.

The park is getting playground equipment, shelters with barbecue pits, picnic tables, fencing and a rocked walking trail encircling the park, she said.

Compared to the fiscal 2004 estimated end-of-year budget provided by City Hall, fiscal 2005 general fund expenditures would increase roughly 16 percent from $5.27 million to $6.09 million and would surpass projected 2005 revenues by about $380,000.

However, city officials originally expected spending about $6.25 million in 2004, nearly $1 million more than they project now.

“I think our revenues will come in more than what we budgeted (for 2005),” Mayor Jim Hobbs told the Call. “We try to be really conservative. We’re in pretty good shape compared to our neighbors.”

Hobbs expects the city’s reserve fund to grow by about $250,000 in 2005, despite the deficit-spending budget.

At budgeting time last year, the reserve coffer was at $3.9 million and fiscal 2004 spending was expected to exceed revenue, but now revenue exceeds 2004 expenditures, leaving the coffer at about $4.2 million at the end of 2004, Rider said.

Other than public works, public safety and parks, the fiscal 2005 budget nearly mirrors the amended fiscal 2004 budget.

Other fiscal 2005 departmental budgets include: $462,738 for administration; $111,062 for the court; $155,550 for the pool; and non-departmental expenditures would be $651,622.

Besides the general fund, the city also budgeted $2.76 million in designated funds, including the road fund, and the capital improvement fund, which is tax revenue designated for capital upgrades.

For 2005, city officials anticipate generating $2.34 million in designated funds, more than $400,000 less than they budgeted to spend.