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Patty Burrow gave the Southwest City Board of Alderman her two cents about the city's budget shortage during the regular meeting on Tuesday.

Burrow provided each council member with spreadsheets comprised of revenue and expense data from the State Auditor's Office over the last four years and month-by-month bank cash reports for the 2019 year thus far. She said there has been a steady downward trend of overspending in the last five years and a rapid depletion of funds within the last seven months.

The report showed that from 2014 to 2017, the city spent at least $50,000 more than it earned each year and, in 2018, the city experienced a surplus of $18,000.

Burrow went on to break down the city's revenue and expenses this year, pointing out that there is overspending each month.

She noted that the cash balance in April totaled $6,699.10 -- $6,000 of which is designated as the Sewer Reserve.

"What this means is that you had $700 for the other eight departments," Burrow said. "In seven months you spent $125,000 more than you received. This is an average of overspending $17,800 every month in 2019. And this includes tax revenue and water and sewer payments collected."

Burrow then posed a number of questions to the council. She asked if council members were aware they signed checks totaling $911,000 in the last seven months. She asked if, at any time during this budget issue, members had looked at a bank statement and, if so, was the bank account ever negative? She also asked if any taxes received for the fire department and street department or money collected from water and sewer bills were used to fund any other departments.

Mayor David Blake asked Burrow how she suggested the council tackle these budget issues. Burrow said she would like to help the city get out of this financial hole.

"The next step in the process would be to find where the money was spent and see if any of it is retrievable," she said. "Once you determine where the leak in funds is and just how much damage the leak has caused, then you work to fix it and put measures in place so this does not happen again."

The council agreed to provide Burrow with bank statements, budget software reports and whatever else she may need.

"Stay on this for us," Mayor Blake said. "You're hot on the trail. We'll get you what you need."

Departmental Reports

Fire Chief Shane Clark said that, since the last meeting, the department has responded to six medical calls and two motor vehicle accidents, extinguished one structure fire, provided traffic control once and utilized the helicopter landing zone once.

Clark reported collecting $375 in donations to be used towards the purchase of propane for the fire station. He estimates he will have the $900 total collected soon.

Clark told the council the radiator is out of service in Engine No. 1, a 1976 LeFrance. He said the repair cost could range from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the extent of the damage. Alderman Craig Martin asked how the city would function without the engine, as it does have the largest water capacity. Clark assured him that Engine No. 2 is still running and the department can still fight fires.

"I don't need an immediate decision, but I wanted to make the council aware," Clark said.

The council agreed to delay the repair at this time.

Public Works Director Shane Clark said that, since the last meeting, the Street Department has cleared additional brush along Liberty Road, mowed throughout town and applied more sand at the beach in Blankenship Park. He said the Water Department repaired a valve on Academy Street, repaired a leak on Thacker Street and repaired the chlorine valve at the Broadway water tower. Clark also reported meeting with representatives from Anderson Engineering regarding their response to the city's request for qualifications to complete the water system rebuild.

Police Chief Bud Gow said that, since the last meeting, the department has received 117 calls for service, issued 11 tickets, filed four reports and made five arrests.

Gow reported receiving a grant from the Department of Public Services and the Department of Senior Services. The grant provides Narcan, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses, as well as training for officers on how to use the medication.

Gow also reported receiving Tyvek suits and boots from the Department of Defense. This gear is used in situations with hazardous materials.

Gow informed the council that the rear, driver-side tire on the Ford Explorer is badly worn and the two front tires are showing wear as well. He estimated it would cost $520 for a full, new set of tires but noted he can put the spare tire on for now.

City Clerk Missy Zinn said she is working to complete the monthly bank reconciliation report. She said engineer responses to the city's request for qualifications (RFQ) will be available at the next meeting. RFQs must be received prior to applying for grants.

Zinn then inquired about an alternative avenue for rehoming unclaimed pets at the dog pound. City ordinance allows one week for pets to be claimed, then the city pays I'm Your Huckleberry Rescue $20 to rehome the animal. Alternatively, if the pets are claimed, the owners are charged $25 plus $2 for every day, exceeding one week, that the animal was sheltered. Zinn asked the council for permission to advertise any unclaimed pets on the city Facebook page and rehome them for a $25 fee. She said this will help to recoup some of the costs of the unclaimed pets and save on the rescue's rehoming fee.

The council voted to approve the alternative adoption measure.

Zinn provided the council with an insurance quote reflecting the price if the deductible on city vehicles were raised. Alderman Judith Pendergraft asked Zinn to research how much it would cost if the city paid insurance quarterly rather than annually.

Zinn then inquired about hiring a part-time clerk at City Hall, noting that she needs help to cover all the clerk duties. If there aren't funds for additional help, Zinn asked about closing City Hall for a half-day or whole day each week to allow her time to complete office duties.

Alderman Karen Wallgren asked if Melissa Lance, director of the Senior Citizen's Center, would be able to cover City Hall for one day a week and Zinn replied that no one would be able to cover for Lance at the center.

"I can't see why the Senior Center can't close once a week when the city clerk needs help this badly," Mayor Blake said.

"There's no reason she can't cover City Hall; she's a city employee on the payroll," Alderman Craig Martin said. "We need to start cutting costs across the board and utilize our resources while we have them."

The council agreed to place Lance on the agenda for the next meeting.

In other business, the council:

• Voted to instate Ordinance #609, authorizing the city of Pineville to provide all municipal court and court clerk functions for Southwest City that are required by Missouri law;

• Voted to designate Alderman Pendergraft as mayor pro-tem, at former pro-tem alderman Steve Reece's request;

• Paid bills in the amount of $16,041.78.

General News on 08/22/2019

Print Headline: Council informed of overspending and shortfall

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