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Monett city budget advances to vote

Monday, March 12, 2012

By Murray Bishoff

The Monett City Council advanced the $44.2 million budget for fiscal year 2012-13 after accepting comment during a public meeting on Tuesday.

Mayor Jim Orr said the $12 million water treatment plant, $900,000 to rebuild the City Park Casino, $275,000 pumper for the fire department and $250,000 for a new golf course clubhouse would boost spending to higher than usual levels.

"I think we have a conservative budget," Orr said.

The budget anticipated a 1.5 percent increase in sales tax revenue, raising total income from in-town commerce to $3,170,000 for the year starting on April 1. Other income projections still reflected a drag from the economy. Fuel sales at the airport were anticipating a $17,000 drop from the current year's projection.

A change in building usage will also alter income projections. Casino rentals are due to drop from $22,000 to $8,000 with the building only in use for less than five months.

Renovations on the Monett Community Building done by city crews will enable the Missouri Career Center to use the building at a lease of $1,500 a month, beginning July 1.

Rent of $500 a month for the Armory on Euclid will stop next fall when the Monett Area YMCA moves to its new facility at South Park. No income is anticipated from the gymnastics building rental, which had brought in more than $1,000 a month, with no leasee. The city is trying to sell the gymnastics building.

Other expenses

One of the bigger variables in the budget is the cost of fuel for vehicles. Fuel costs for the police department were projected to be up $10,000 or 29 percent. The fire department's fuel budget rose $2,500 or 20 percent.

The 2.5 percent pay increase for all employees will cost the city an additional $110,000 in payroll expenses.

A number of capital improvement projects are proposed but could be modified to save money.

For example, Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch has $440,000 budgeted for a new truck to serve the sewer department. Rauch said the 17-year-old Vactor truck, costing $355,000, is due for replacement. He is now considering recommending a five-year lease purchase that would cost a little less than $70,000 a year in payments. The current truck may be traded in for $50,000 or sold outright.

The budget includes improvements of $265,000 at North Park for new lights. The city has committed $100,000 to the project with $40,000 coming from the Monett R-1 School District and the balance still being raised by the Monett Youth Baseball and Softball League.

Street Superintendent Russ Balmas provided a list of 30 road stretches, covering approximately 78,778 square yards, which he plans to cover with chip and seal for $78,778. Spending for repair and maintenance of streets is up $50,000 from the current year.

Fire truck plans

Council members approved seeking bids for a new Class A pumper truck for the fire department. Chief Tom Jones said action now would save the city a 3 percent increase in cost expected to go into effect on April 1.

Jones planned to seek a truck with a 1,000-gallon water tank, double the size of the older trucks. The new pumper would replace both the 1965 and 1978 pumpers that can no longer pass pump certification. Both trucks are used at the waste treatment plant for pressure washing.

Jones expected the new truck would take up to nine months to manufacture once the order was placed. The city will buy the truck on a lease purchase with approximately 3 percent interest over five years.

Savings in some areas were offset by others. In the police department budget, a $5,000 reduction in worker's compensation insurance was practically negated by a $4,000 increase in health insurance premiums.

The budget projects spending $1,632,683 on debt service plus $949,313 on interest during the coming year. According to City Administrator Dennis Pyle, the city is currently carrying $28.5 million in general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, promissory notes and capital lease obligations.

Final passage of the budget is scheduled for the council's monthly meeting on March 20.

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