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Downtown Revitalization and a new City Hall are making the city’s financial numbers seem alarming.
Last week figures were released that show the city’s general revenue fund spent more than $2 million more than what it brought in.
However, City Finance Director Melanie Allwood said those numbers are skewed because of the two big projects. Allwood said much of the shown deficit is attributed to the Downtown Revitalization project because the city must pay for the contracted work and then wait for reimbursement from the state. She said next year’s financial numbers should reflect the change.
Allwood said the city budgeted 3 percent less in revenues this fiscal year, despite numbers last year coming in higher than fiscal year 2007. However, Allwood said the city is down $20,000 from last year for the period of October through December of 2008.
“We always try to make the budget realistic but there are always unforeseen things,” Allwood said.
Many of the city’s unforeseen problems lie within the city’s water and wastewater systems where extensive repairs and replacements are needed. Allwood said for years the city just repaired and never replaced infrastructure.
Allwood said she faced a budget deficit around $750,000, two and half years ago when she took over the position. At the end of fiscal year 2008, Allwood said that number had decreased to about $200,000. If no major problems arise, she estimates that as much as $175,000 of that can be made up this year.
“We’ve got to keep operating, but we’ve tried to catch up as fast as we can without negatively affecting the community,” she said.
Allwood said in her opinion her predecessor didn’t have a complete grasp of the city’s accounting software. She said when she took over the position she asked the company that made the software to train her. She said some simple accounting mistakes could have led to the city being mistaken about where its cash position stood. She said the city also made capitol purchases that she would not have recommended at the time, despite the need of the equipment.
“I can’t say that they were bad purchases, but if they knew what their cash positions were, they might have thought differently,” she said.
State wide revenues were released yesterday and show a decline statewide for year to date figures for fiscal year 2008. Missouri Commissioner of Administration Larry Schepker announced the revenues declined 0.2 percent from $3.73 billion to $3.72 billion. However, numbers for December 2008 are 16.8 percent higher than 2007. But Schepker said in a news release that there were two extra working days in 2008 and that some of November’s numbers were added to December because of the late Thanksgiving holiday.
Sales and use taxes are down 3.7 percent from last year but saw a 19 percent increase last month. Corporate tax collections for the year are also down.