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Fiscal 2004 budget goes to Crestwood aldermen for review


Executive Editor

A balanced fiscal 2004 operating budget that calls for net expenditures totaling more than $8.5 million recently was presented to the Crestwood Board of Aldermen.

City Administrator Don Greer presented his recommended fiscal 2004 budget to the board during a work session Saturday morning.

Greer's recommended operating budget projects net expenditures totaling $8,586,812 with anticipated revenue of $8,587,967 for a surplus of $1,155.

In his budget message to the Board of Aldermen, Greer wrote, "Over the most recent few months, I have researched the general ledger in an attempt to identify our expense requirements. In meeting with the department heads, I worked to identify 'contingency' categories that were not absolutely essential to the daily operations of the departments.

"The budget I present to you is balanced: Expenses do not exceed anticipated revenues for the fiscal year,'' Greer wrote.

The city administrator acknowledges in his budget message "that this budget is tight. There is little room for discretion in our expense position. You have heard for years how municipal budgets are essentially revenue driven. While I would agree in large part with that assertion, I would add that it is our expense position on which we can exert degrees of control. There is no room for significant, unanticipated expenditures.

"When these items arise during the year, I will be bringing you requests for adjustments to the budget together with an analysis of our current financial position. Please remember, a budget is a plan — a living, breathing document that indicates what we will accomplish and what we won't.''

As previously reported exclusively by the Call, Greer has recommended the elimination of a dozen city positions — primarily through attrition — plus other cost-cutting measures in an effort to reduce general-fund expenditures for the coming fiscal year.

"The results of these efforts identified $263,464 in staffing wage efficiencies enumerated in my report to the Ways and Means Committee and the Board of Aldermen in April of this year,'' Greer wrote in his budget message.

"Those efficiencies coupled with the projected increases in wages for fiscal year 2004 have reduced our projected payroll costs buy nearly $34,000 compared to current payroll. That number will be further increased through attrition expected during the fiscal year,'' he wrote.

For the general fund, total expenditures of $9,780,801 are projected for fiscal 2004 with anticipated revenue of $9,854,283, including a total of $1,193,988 in transfers from other funds.

Based on a projected undesignated fund balance of $72,328 on June 30 of this year, the fiscal 2004 general fund budget anticipates an undesignated fund balance of $73,482 on June 30, 2004.

For the current fiscal year, total expenditures of $9,590,125 are projected in the general fund with anticipated revenue of $9,662,453, including a total of $964,000 in transfers from other funds.

For the current fiscal year, the city had an audited undesignated fund balance of $132,334 and an undesignated fund balance of $72,328 is projected on June 30.

In his budget message, Greer wrote, "I began this year with the assumption that the end-of-year balance for (the) fiscal year ending June 30, 2002, was approximately $260,000 short of balancing with revenues for the same period of time. In October of 2002, the annual operating budget was adjusted to reflect a reduction in anticipated sales tax revenue, and a number of operating expenses were eliminated in order to present a projected positive balance at the end of fiscal year 2003.

"My analysis at this time indicates that those adjustments will be sufficient to balance the current expense portion of the budget for fiscal year 2003. Revenue estimates through April of 2003 appear to be approximately $71,357 short of meeting projections. We continue to monitor our most significant revenue, sales tax receipts, and will adjust estimates based upon the final two months of the year,'' the city administrator wrote.

In his budget message, Greer notes that one of his major goals is to establish a "non-expendable trust'' in the general fund with a balance of at least $1.5 million that would enable the city to meet its cash-flow needs and eliminate the need to "blend'' funds from the city's capital funds.

"A non-expendable trust is an account that has a fixed balance and exists for a specific purpose — its intent would be to have $1.5 million available on the first and last days of the fiscal year,'' Greer wrote. "Throughout the operating calendar, this account could be used to meet the obligations of the general fund. Future years could see this amount adjusted to take into consideration the cash-flow needs of the city, but this account would not be used for routine purchases, operating or capital needs.

"I believe that this is a necessary step for us to take in order to enable each of our major funds — general, capital improvements and parks and stormwater — to function independently of the others. We have most recently operated under a combined or 'blended' cash position in order to meet our obligations throughout the year. While I'm not suggesting that we are able to discontinue this practice for the next few fiscal years, my goal is to present a system that will get us to that point in three years.''

Board members will review the capital improvements fund and the parks and stormwater fund during a work session at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 31, at City Hall.

For the capital improvements fund, total revenues of $2,209,795 are anticipated for fiscal 2004, including a beginning fund balance of $291,030, while total expenditures are projected at $1,993,097. A fund balance of $216,698 is projected on June 30, 2004.

Among the projected street program expenditures in the preliminary fiscal 2004 capital improvements fund are: $375,000 for street reconstruction, $55,000 for contracted slab work, $70,000 for mill and overlay, $180,000 for microsurfacing and $114,000 for street supplies.

Also included in proposed expenditures are transfers to the general fund totaling $367,618 designed to reimburse the general fund for costs associated with capital improvement projects.

For the parks and stormwater fund, total revenues of $2,729,853 are anticipated for fiscal 2004, including a beginning fund balance of $445,319, while total expenditures are projected at $2,347,864. A fund balance of $381,989 is projected on June 30, 2004.

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