Sunset Hills board OKs fiscal 2004 budget

By Cliff Brunt

A first glance at the Sunset Hills fiscal 2004 budget might concern some residents.

The city’s projected revenues fall $370,000 short of the budgeted amount the city’s Board of Aldermen unanimously approved last week.

But there’s nothing to worry about, according to city officials, who note the city has $3.9 million in reserve.

Though many of the nation’s cities and towns are scraping for money, Sunset Hills and most of its neighbors are in excellent shape, according to City Clerk Laura Rider.

“I think if you want to compare us to other cities in the area, there are quite a few that have three to six months in reserve,” she said.

The fiscal 2004 budget of $6,020,214 is up about 3 percent from last year’s total.

The biggest increase is projected to be in non-departmental spending as city officials expect to spend $638,626 on those items, up from $524,719 this year. Rider explained that much of the increase is attributed to increased insurance premiums.

Health insurance costs are expected to increase 20 percent, and dental insurance fees are expected to increase by 10 percent.

The city’s pool budget increased from $109,558 to $136,558. Rider said the city plans to add a slide at the municipal pool at Watson Trail Park next year.

Administrative costs jumped from an estimated $442,902 to $466,796. A 3 percent average pay raise for employees was the main reason for that, Rider said.

Another project, the 2003 Minnie Ha Ha park improvement project, is scheduled to carry over into 2004, so all the money will not be spent this year. The project includes improved roads and park paths.

The city also will spend $9,000 to upgrade its computers.