Edwardsville facing possible budget shortfall
The city of Edwardsville will approve publication of its 2013 budget next month, but there are several figures that still are up in the air.
With computer problems, staff shortages and some property tax numbers still unclear, Edwardsville city administrator Mike Webb told the city council that city staff was running behind with the budget.
“I don’t feel nearly as prepared for this budget as I have in the past,” he said.
The biggest obstacle that remains is determining what the city’s assessed value will be thanks to a challenge on the appraisal of one of the multi-million dollar buildings in the industrial park.
Webb said the former Fastenal building is now under two different Industrial Revenue Bonds, one of which should be ending this year, bringing the building fully on the tax rolls in 2013.
The county has valued that half of the building at $6.5 million, but the owners have appealed, saying it should be $4.82 million.
Without that valuation, even including the city’s projected share of casino revenues for 2013, the general fund budget has a shortfall of $139,173. Shortfalls in other parts of the budget can be met by spending down budget reserves.
While original estimates of Edwardsville’s annual portion of revenues from the Hollywood Casino were $557,100, the city is estimating it will receive $360,500 in 2012 and $405,000 in 2013. The council had hoped to use casino revenues solely for street improvements.
As for other revenues, Webb said sales tax revenues have increased since 2009, so the city is projecting they will be up slightly from the amount budgeted for 2012, about $1 million, to a 2013 projection of $1,094,196. The city’s revenues from fees, permits, motor vehicle and liquor taxes are expected to remain level next year.
But there are also some larger expenditures scheduled for 2013. With no salary increases in the last two years, the city has given employees a cost of living increase of 1.5 percent this year. For 2013, the police union has negotiated a 3 percent increase, and the administrative staff will receive the same. The city is continuing to negotiate salaries for its firefighters.
Benefits expenses also are expected to increase about 8.75 percent.
Additionally, the city has committed to taking the first steps in creating a public works department, which means hiring a manager and a maintenance worker. The city also plans to bring on two part-time positions, a codes enforcement officer and a parks and recreation field manager.
Then, there is also the increase in cost for the ambulance contract, whether the council ultimately selects a private firm, a $95,000 increase, or continues with the Kansas City Kansas Fire Department, a $75,000 increase.
Webb also detailed vehicles and equipment purchases he didn’t think the city could defer any longer: a police patrol car, $10,651; turn out gear, which is part of replacement plan, for $8,800; pager upgrades, $6,000; and a smoke detector program, $2,900. He noted these items could be funded through the safety services sales tax the city plans to place on the ballot in November, should it be approved.
But he said until the city’s property values were clear, he was not sure if the city could maintain its property tax rate unless casino revenues were used for general operations.
“We may have to spend some of the 2013 gaming dollars more on operations than we wanted to see,” Webb said. “I don’t know that we can do much relative to our maximum budget we need to adopt short of some significant cuts.”
The city’s existing mill levy is 44.505. The council will receive an update and set a maximum budget and date for a budget hearing at its Aug. 13 meeting.