City council of Jefferson City wrestles with budget shortcomings

Posted on 20 August 2018 at 4:34am

JEFFERSON CITY - City leaders will discuss Jefferson City’s 2019 FY budget at Monday’s city council meeting.

The budget, labelled “conservative” by Mayor Carrie Turgin, puts no money toward replenishing the city’s sinking fund for capital improvements.

The sinking fund was established two years ago to cover the cost of renovations ranging from HVAC units to the full-scale remodeling of buildings. During the past two years, the fund has been depleted.

On Thursday, Councilman Rick Mihalevich from the second ward attempted to partially replenish the sinking fund by redistributing $100,000 from the Housing Authority’s gap fund. The gap fund is in place in case the city is underpaid for condemned homes.

This effort was voted down 5-2.

“If we don’t do anything, it’s just kicking the can down the road,” Mihalevich said.

This initiative was put in the council’s “parking lot” to be discussed at a later date. The onus is now on Mihalevich to come up with a new solution for the sinking fund.

“If councilman Mihalvech or somebody else doesn’t come up with a way to offset that from another expenditure, we won’t approve the budget because it is unbalanced," Councilwoman Erin Wiseman said.

Mihalevich did not give any hints for his new ideas to replenish the fund, but he said to “stay tuned” for Monday’s meeting.

The city council made progress on finding funds for 14 new police cars the Jefferson City Police Department requested for this upcoming year. Mayor Turgin’s proposed budget only had room for two.

On Thursday, the city council decided to use the city’s Tracfone settlement to pay for seven more cars. However, the budget still remains five cars short of the original request.

Councilman Mark Schreiber said the original budget allocation of two cars would cause problems down the road.

“If we just paid for two cars, we would have a request for 21 more the next year,” Schreiber said.

Both Schreiber and Wiseman both believe adding only nine cars may be sufficient, but still see this as a problem moving forward.

Despite these issues, the city council as a whole has been on the same page throughout the process.

“For the last two years, we have been a united front,” Schreiber said.

The budget still has to go through several meetings, but Councilwoman Laura A. Ward is optimistic the council will be done with the budget soon.

“I expect it to be approved by September first,” Ward said.

The budget would go into effect November 1.