Aldermen gave preliminary approval of the 2013-2014 budget at the June 4 board meeting by completing the first reading of the new spending plan.
Both revenue and expenses are projected at $9.5 million, which includes a projected sales tax revenue increase of about 2 percent.
In the daily operation of the city, the projected expenditures are similar to actual expenses of the current fiscal year that ends June 30, Mayor Herb Adams said, with the exception of two new line items the mayor said are important to him.
The first, which is a new expenditure, is a 2 percent raise for all employees, which would go into effect in January 2014 if revenue will support it.
“I met with the employees and they were accepting of this plan,” Adams said. “We believe there will be some improvement in the economy in the last quarter of this year and we’ll begin to see some increase in our taxes by the first of the year. That’s when the raises will go into effect.”
The second expense item the mayor is promoting to aldermen is a $12,000 line item to study the city’s cemetery operations and records. This also is a new expenditure.
Adams said he met twice with Jeff Palmore, owner/operator of Bell Funeral Home, who has criticized the city cemetery records.
Palmore has consistently made claims that a previous sexton had routinely buried individuals and sold grave spaces before he purchased them from the city, creating a maze of ownership assignments. Adams said he wants to make another attempt to clarify the cemetery records to boost the public’s confidence in the city.
A third item the mayor said he feels is important is a $10,000 line item for the Tri-County Senior Center. The same amount was budgeted last year but it is always studied carefully, Adams said, because of the competition for funding the various quality-of-life programs that benefit citizens.
The city park system, youth sports groups, history museum and genealogy society are all working on programs that benefit segments of the society, and all of those also have some funding needs, Adams said.
“All the social programs are important and the city needs to support each one,” he said. “We believe we have to continue to support the senior center because of the service it provides for this vital group of our citizens.”
In addition to the $10,000 line item, which is remitted to the senior center as tax revenues come in, city officials are asking citizens to add $1 for the senior center to their monthly water and sewer bills to help with the center’s expenses.
Capital improvements also are included in this year’s budget, which includes $2 million for two matching grants that will add street and sidewalk improvements on Old Gray Summit Road and Route N.
City Administrator Harold Selby said the budget also includes the development of the New East Osage Community Improvement District.
“This project will include many of the same improvements you see throughout our city, including sidewalks, trees and streetlights,” he said. “These much-needed improvements continue to help our city accommodate our residents.”
Thornton Road will see improvements from Eagles View to Viaduct with curb and gutter, sidewalks and streetlights.
Selby said the budget will include more funds allocated for resurfacing streets this year than in the two previous years combined.
As the economy has recovered nationally, Selby said the city has seen an increase in sales tax revenue collected in Pacific.
Sales Tax Revenue
“The calendar year of 2012 we saw numbers reach above $700,000 for the first time since 2009,” he said. “This fiscal year, it looks like we should post a 2 percent increase in sales tax collections. All three subdivisions that at one time during the recession had halted all building and were going through bankruptcy are now building homes.”
Selby said the city can still find ways to cut costs while still providing quality services to the community.
He said the city would be eliminating a telephone line at the city hall that would save between $900 to $1,000 a month.
The city will replace that line with a radio connection and an ultra high frequency connection that will pay for itself in a few months, he said.
The new budget will be read for a second time at the June 18 board of aldermen meeting and goes into effect July 1.
Missourian Staff Writer Sarah Johnson contributed to this story.