December 25, 2013 - The Crestwood Board of Aldermen recently eliminated more than $230,000 from the city's capital improvement budget when it voted to approve the 2014 budget.
Across all funds, the 2014 budget anticipates total expenditures of $13,630,325 with projected revenues of $13,135,204 — a deficit of $495,121. With a total beginning fund balance of $6,684,116, a fund balance of $6,188,994 is projected across all funds on Dec. 31, 2014.
The approved budget includes a 1-percent merit-pay increase for employees. In addition, the budget also includes 10-percent increases for both health insurance and dental insurance.
At the board Dec. 10 meeting, Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild reiterated concerns he expressed at the board's previous meeting about capital improvement expenditures exceeding revenue by roughly 25 percent, in part, because of both phases of the Spellman Avenue reconstruction project. Duchild said there were some items he either did not receive justification or "enough justification" to "even come close to accepting in the 2014 budget."
"If we're spending our savings — in essence that's what we're doing — I'd much rather be building streets or some harder-infrastructure-type project instead," he said.
However, Ward 4 Alderman Dan Tennessen said it is "pretty sad" if board members "think better" than public works employees who say they need certain equipment.
Duchild focused on motor vehicles totaling $196,500 and and $39,000 in heavy equipment line items, which included: a dump truck, a three-quarter ton pickup truck, an air compressor, a skid steer and a car for the public works director.
He said eliminating the dump truck purchase, which would reduce 2014-2015 snow routes, would not alter the level of service.
"I think we have incredible snow-removal service, and I do not believe the residents will see much of a difference if we reduce down to five routes," Duchild said.
Regardless of the board's decision, the dump truck in question would not arrive until the 2014-2015 snow season. Even though the board eliminated the purchase, if the need arises, the board could approve its purchase by June to ensure its arrival for the 2014-2015 snow season.
Eliminating the dump truck, budgeted at $140,000, was approved in a 6-2 vote with Tennessen and Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach opposed.
The public services director's car, budgeted at $30,000, was eliminated in a 6-2 vote with Tennessen and Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter opposed. Duchild said he would prefer the Police or Fire departments receive a new vehicle before the public services director.
Mayor Jeff Schlink broke three ties to eliminate the $26,500 three-quarter ton pickup truck, the $26,000 skid steer and the $13,000 air compressor from the budget.
Wallach, who opposed eliminating the public services director vehicle, said because of the age of the 1997 pickup truck, he believed it would be more efficient to replace the vehicle.
When asked about the justification for some of the expenditures in question, Public Services Director Mike Pratt said he preferred "not to talk at this time."
"All of these vehicles are necessary. And we've talked about them at length," Pratt said.
Duchild said he would encourage the administration to bring more evidence to the board in the future and he "would be happy to reconsider any of these items."
Overall, the final reading for the capital improvement budget, as amended, was approved 6-2 with Wallach and Tennessen opposed.
The general fund budget was approved unanimously, but with a 5-3 vote the board reduced expenditures within the management information systems part of the budget to $110,100 — a decrease of $30,000 — to account for the approval of Throttlenet as the city's information technology provider.
The board unanimously approved the park and stormwater budget after Wallach made a motion to reduce the mowing services line item by $12,500 due to the contract the board approved at its last meeting.
The sewer lateral budget also received a unanimous vote after Wallach motioned to reduce expenditures and revenues by $10,000. He said the projected $150,100 "might be high based upon history."
For 2014, the general fund projects revenues of $7,950,011 with anticipated expenditures of $8,059,449 — a deficit of $109,438.
In memo to Schlink and the Board of Aldermen, City Administrator Mark Sime wrote, "The general fund will receive a transfer of $144,000 from the park and stormwater fund for the partial repayment of funds advanced in 2010 and 2011 for the payments on the Aquatic Center. The result is an increase in the general fund balance of $34,562.
The city made the final payment on the Aquatic Center in 2012, "leaving the city now debt free," Sime wrote. "This is a tremendous accomplishment."
With a beginning fund balance of $3,893,042, a fund balance of $3,927,604 is projected in the general fund on Dec. 31, 2014.
The capital improvement budget projects revenues of $3,188,243 with anticipated expenditures of $4,031,274 — a deficit of $843,031.
"The capital improvement fund will also receive a transfer of $300,000 from the park and stromwater fund for the partial repayment of funds advanced in 2010 and 2011 for the payments on the Aquatic Center," Sime wrote.
With a beginning fund balance of $1,201,731, a fund balance of $658,700 is anticipated in the capital improvement fund on Dec. 31, 2014.
The park and stormwater fund anticipates revenues of $1,856,850 with projected expenditures of $1,399,602 — a surplus of $457,248.
"In 2012, the park and stormwater fund began repaying the funds that it was advanced in 2010 and 2011 to pay the Aquatic Center debt," the city administrator wrote.
With a beginning fund balance of $684,383, a fund balance of $697,631 in the park and stormwater fund is anticipated on Dec. 31, 2014.