A public hearing has been scheduled for March 6 to discuss the City of Monett's proposed budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which begins on April 1. The Monett City Council released its $44.2 million spending plan at the Feb. 17 meeting.
Mayor Jim Orr said spending on the planned water treatment plant contributed significantly to the record budget total. Construction of the plant will be funded by a $12 million revenue bond issue approved by voters. Approximately $6.7 million will be spent on the project in the coming year.
Other major capital improvement projects included in the general fund budget for the coming year include:
* Replacement of the City Park Casino with a new building that has approximately 50 percent more floor space at a cost of $900,000. Sale of the city's gymnastics center building behind the Ramey supermarket would be used to defray the cost of rebuilding the City Park Casino.
* A new pumper for the fire department costing approximately $250,000.
* A new clubhouse for the golf course that will share a driveway with the Monett Area YMCA and have a parking lot for 25 to 30 golf patrons.
* Two new police cars, using the state purchasing bid.
* A new digital recording system for the E-911 center.
* Upgrading storm sirens to comply with new federal standards for narrow-band radio frequencies.
A major investment in the water system will come from utility funds and completion of nine miles of mains around the city funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act bonds. Work includes completing construction of the booster pump station on the northern loop, by North Park, and the well house for the #21 well on the Jack Henry and Associates campus.
Utility rates to rise
New costs were anticipated for city utility customers.
"The city is anticipating a 12.16 percent increase in its wholesale electric rates from Empire District Electric in June of 2012," wrote City Administrator Dennis Pyle in a overview of the budget. "The city's intent is to pass along a 9 percent retail rate increase to its consumers in an attempt to lessen the impact felt by residents, businesses and industry.
"This represents the second consecutive year of increases from Empire," Pyle continued. "However, the company has made substantial investments in its resource mix with the addition of new coal-fired power plants that should provide long-term rate stability."
Monett's efforts to stop inflow and infiltration into the sewer system has involved spending around $100,000 a year with the Insituform company to seal cracked and leaking mains. Pyle said Monett has led communities in southwest Missouri in addressing sewer pipe maintenance.
"The city plans to aggressively step up its maintenance program of lining several thousand feet of pipe each year," Pyle stated. "This ongoing investment in maintaining the collection system will lengthen the expected life span of the city's sewer plant and hopefully postpone the need for building additional capacity at the plant."
To sustain the maintenance effort, the city council planned to phase in sewer rate increases over the next three years, similar to the water rate increases from 2009 to 2001.
"After three years, the average residential household will have experienced an increase of approximately $8 in their monthly sewer charges," Pyle stated.
Raises for city employees
The budget includes 2.5 percent cost-of-living wage increases for city employees, According to the city's audited financial statements, the amount of money spent by the city on wages in the 2011-12 fiscal year dropped below the amount paid in the 2006-07 fiscal year. The number of full-time city employees dropped by nine last year.
The cost of living increase will raise city expenses by $110,000.
As the 2011-12 fiscal year drew to a close, sales tax income showed a 10 percent increase over the previous year. For the coming year, the city is projecting sales tax revenue of $3,170,000. Of that, $604,500 will go toward paying off debts under the tax increment financing (TIF) program.
Approximately $1.75 million in funds due to be paid to Monett's TIF are held in escrow in Barry County, pending outcome of litigation. Pyle indicated the city is prepared to make all payments on its TIF debt in the coming year, regardless of the litigation.
Payments totaling $1,632,683 in principal and $949,313 in interest are scheduled to be made on the city's debts during the coming fiscal year.
The complete proposed budget is posted on the City's website at www.cityofmonett.com.