FY2023-24 Proposed Budget
April 28, 2023
TO: Mayor Ken McClure and Members of City Council
RE: Fiscal Year 2024 Proposed Budget
In accordance with the requirements of the City Charter, I am presenting my proposed Fiscal Year 2024 (FY2024) budget for your review and consideration. This budget covers the period July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024.
The development of the proposed budget has been a collaborative process with input from every department and the City of Springfield Leadership Team. The City is a complex and functionally diverse organization. I believe this budget addresses many, but certainly not all, of the City’s most pressing operational needs.
The largest individual segment of the City’s operations is supported by the General Fund (approximately $110 million, including $2.5 million in reserve appropriations), which covers most police and fire operations, public works, planning and development, building development services, municipal court, and all administrative support services. These activities are funded by four major General Fund revenue sources: sales and use tax, payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), other taxes, and licenses and fines. The General Fund is the primary focus of the City’s annual budget process because it funds many of the high-profile citizen services (e.g., those listed above) and is the revenue source that provides the most flexibility in use.
In addition to the General Fund, the City’s budget for its remaining governmental funds is specific to designated revenue sources and the restricted activities and services provided by those funds. For example, the City’s “enterprise activities” (such as the airport and clean water services) are all self-supporting operations. These enterprise activities earn the necessary revenue to cover the total costs of their respective operations, debt service, and capital activities, through fees that are paid for from the services provided. In other words, sewer fees fully fund sewer operations, airport revenues fully fund airport operations, etc. This segregation of funds by revenue source is required by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), which establishes accounting and financial reporting standards for state and local governments that follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
The City Charter requires the City Manager submit a balanced budget to City Council for consideration by May 1 of each year. A balanced budget is, in essence, a “zero sum game”. Once the balanced budget has been submitted by the City Manager, anything added to the budget must be matched by an accompanying budget reduction or increase in projected revenues.
The impacts from the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) during the past three years have been unprecedented from an operational perspective and a budget perspective. The City has been awarded over $120 million in COVID-19 federal funds. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Programs, Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, Airport Improvement funds, Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, Public Health, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds during the past three years, with a significant balance of those funds yet to be expended. This is in addition to the infusion of trillions of dollars of stimulus monies provided to individuals and businesses by the Federal government resulting in greater sales and use tax revenues than originally projected. This trend has continued through FY2022 and FY2023 to date.
Over one-third of the entire City budget is dependent on sales tax. Sales tax growth historically is very modest, averaging three to four percent during the past 40 years (including periods of decline). Given the heavy reliance on sales tax, the City began providing specific quarterly revenue targets to City Council since the onset of the pandemic to ensure the City is tracking within the revenue projections for each quarter.
During the current year, FY2023, sales and use tax has continued to exceed the City’s budget projections by over 10%. A tight labor market, supply chain issues, and high energy costs have led to inflation which have impacted all aspects of the City. Additional resources are funded in FY2024 to help mitigate the increased costs of supplies and materials due to rising prices. Concerns of a slowing economy due to increasing consumer debt, higher-than-normal energy prices, and geopolitical uncertainty across the globe continue to loom. The City is anticipating slower growth for the rest of the current year and a return to modest growth for FY2024. The City continues to live within its means and is well positioned moving into FY2024.
Moody’s Investor Service, the City’s bond credit rating service, reaffirmed the City’s general obligation credit rating as Aa1 in its March 1, 2023, Credit Opinion on Springfield. An Aa1 rating is the second highest rating available.
“The City of Springfield benefits from a growing and vibrant economy that is anchored by a significant higher education institutional presence. The City’s financial operations are well-managed and have led to strong government-wide reserve levels. The credit profile also benefits from manageable long-term liabilities and fixed costs, which affords the City with significant operating flexibility.”
While Moody’s recognizes the City’s high-quality credit position, it also points out our City’s challenges, including our dependence on sales tax and below average resident income. As a result, City staff will continue to emphasize the future diversification of our revenue base, in accordance with City Council direction, to reasonably offset this economic sensitivity.
Springfield continues to experience strong retail sales and momentum in the area economic development. As outlined in Forward SGF, the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Springfield will continue to be proactive in attracting investment, ensuring the provision of necessary infrastructure, and a skilled, educated, and diverse workforce to support the growing business community. Current project successes include those that improve livability for Springfieldians, including the beautification of City property, roadways, and entryways. The $14.3 million expansion of MSU’s Jordan Valley Innovation Center is nearing completion, which is a public-private partnership to support research and development. The City facilitated upgrades to the nearby streetscape, stormwater, and sewer infrastructure. Construction for the Grant Avenue Parkway project is underway along with approval of the redevelopment plan, which includes incentives that will encourage residential revitalization and promote goals to stimulate reinvestment within the district. The City has continued its focus on leveraging state and federal funding for transformative projects outlined within Forward SGF, including Renew Jordan Creek and the Art Museum expansion.
Support for entrepreneurs and small businesses remains strong with record lending in recent years by the City’s Commercial Loan Programs capitalized by the federal Community Development Block Grant Program to expand employment opportunities, stimulate private investment, and eliminate slum and blight conditions. This demonstrates the City’s strong recovery following the pandemic, closing nine loans totaling over $1.3 million and creating 27 full-time equivalent jobs during FY2022. From July 2022 to April 2023, the revolving loan programs closed eight loans totaling nearly $1.8 million, with four anticipated loans totaling nearly $750,000 expected to close prior to the end of the FY2023. These businesses will create at least 44 jobs and benefit low-to-moderate income individuals.
The City commenced the Lake Springfield planning process, funded by an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and $200,000 match from the Hatch Foundation, City Utilities (CU), and the City of Springfield’s Environmental Services Department. This work will fund the development of a plan to identify future opportunities to complement Lake Springfield Park and Boathouse, which are jointly operated by CU and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. The plan will include adaptive reuse planning for the decommissioned coal-powered plant (James River Power Station) and vision for the Lake Springfield area, encompassing approximately 1,000 acres of publicly owned land. The hydrological study component of the process will help determine feasibility of various opportunities for the Lake and James River. The plan will be a catalyst for innovative economic and recreational opportunities, new infrastructure, sustainable water quality and green infrastructure, compatible development to increase the tax base, create jobs, and improve the quality of life of the region’s workforce and their families.
Springfield continues to facilitate proactive investments in public infrastructure for areas within the City that have the highest potential for development and redevelopment. City Council approved an Infrastructure Reimbursement Agreement to fund public infrastructure needed to develop the first Bu-cee’s in the State of Missouri, a 53,000 square foot travel center. Council also approved a petition to establish a Community Improvement District to reimburse the developer for public improvements needed for the project. A groundbreaking was held in October 2022 with planned opening in late 2023. O’Reilly Hospitality is completing a $19 million redevelopment project to convert the historic Medical Arts Building in downtown Springfield to a Moxy Hotel with opening projected for Fall 2023. The construction of Brody Corners is underway, a new $20 million commercial development in southwest Springfield being developed on an environmentally contaminated former mobile home park. The Betty and Bobby Allison Sports Town opened in late 2022. The estimated $30 million state-of-the-art athletic complex includes outdoor fields and indoor courts and is a boost for the region’s sports tourism market. The City entered into an Infrastructure Reimbursement Agreement with Allison Sports Town for public improvements totaling $2.1 million. In addition, the City, through our Springfield Greene County Park’s System, is making significant turf and facility improvements to our Cooper Soccer and Killian Softball/Baseball facilities to enhance our sports tourism market.
To stimulate economic development in Springfield’s industrial areas, the City of Springfield was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) for Phase I transportation infrastructure improvements to LeCompte Road. The City also received notice of a Governor’s Transportation Cost Share award to fund Phase II improvements for LeCompte Road Area industrial site readiness. LeCompte Road serves as one of the main thoroughfares for the industrial, manufacturing, and warehousing land uses east of US 65, and these improvements will position large acreage sites for development. The project supports resiliency for the movement of products from across the country into Springfield’s economy and to national users.
Forward SGF Comprehensive Plan
The City adopted a new comprehensive plan, Forward SGF, in November 2022 to replace the prior comprehensive plan, Vision 2020, that was created in 1996. Significant improvements to downtown Springfield were created out of the prior Vision 2020 plan including the development of Jordan Valley Park, the Ice Park, Hammons Field through the developer John Q. Hammons, and significant progress in the redevelopment of many downtown landmarks. Much work continues today with the acquisition of Hammons Field by the City of Springfield to ensure the Springfield Cardinals continue to call Hammons Field home for the next 15 years.
Forward SGF continues with the work that was initiated decades ago with emphasis on the following priorities:
1. Neighborhood Revitalization
2. Quality of Place
3. Comprehensive City Code Update
4. Expanded trail network and gap connectivity
5. Entrepreneurial Stewardship
6. Corridor Improvement and Beautification
7. Neighborhood Commercial Hubs and Planning
8. Connecting to Nature
9. Growth and Annexation Plan
10. Regional Planning and Partnerships
Much effort has been made to make this new comprehensive plan a viable guide to the next 20-25 years of successful growth of the City of Springfield. Currently, the City lacks a funding source to accomplish many of the capital improvement and community goals outlined in the Forward SGF. Staff will continue to evaluate potential funding options to complete these initiatives and other future, long-term community needs and expectations.
Fiscal Management FY2023 - General Revenues
For FY2023, sales tax revenue was budgeted 14% higher than FY2022 sales tax. With the infusion of trillions of dollars of stimulus monies provided by the Federal government, sales tax is exceeding the original budget projection by 10.9% ($6,111,300). FY2023 sales tax is currently projected to be $62.1 million.
Due to Missouri state law and a general public acceptability of the sales tax, the City relies heavily on this revenue for both operational and capital needs. Sales tax is used to fund vital functions such as police and fire operations and development-related services. During positive economic growth years, this reliance is beneficial to the City. However, reliance on sales tax is problematic because it is the most elastic, or volatile, of our revenue sources. This means that over-reliance on sales tax for operational needs during a recession creates significant financial challenges for the City. The City needs to identify approaches to better diversify our revenue sources to minimize this up and down effect.
Use tax revenue, a smaller component of sales tax, is charged on any goods purchased without paying a sales tax when one would normally be applied in their home state. One of the most common instances of the use tax is when someone buys goods from another state where no sales tax is levied and the consumer intends to use, store, or distribute the goods where a sales tax would normally apply. The rate is generally the same as the local sales tax rate. Use tax had increased significantly over several years. Use tax is a challenging revenue source to project due to the changing shopping patterns that are occurring. Senate Bill 153, commonly referred to as Wayfair (online use tax collections), was signed into law and increased use tax collections from online retailers who sell and deliver more than $100,000 in tangible goods to the State beginning in January 2023. We believe most retailers began complying with the law when it was passed since we have seen a slowing of growth year-over-year. FY2023 use tax was budgeted at $7.4 million and is projected to bring in $7.2 million.
Our second largest general revenue source is Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). PILOT revenue is generated as a percentage of the gross receipts collection from City Utilities, the City's municipally-owned utility. It’s common for cities without a municipally-owned utility to receive payments from a private utility similar to our PILOT revenue. PILOT revenue has increased this past year due to the increased cost of natural gas used in the production of electricity and used by customers. In addition, in FY2023 the City received the final additional revenue from the excess costs of natural gas during the February 2021 extreme weather event. Revenue from PILOTs for FY2023 is projected to be $19.5 million, or $2.3 million above budget. PILOTs are a challenging revenue source to project due to its dependency on the weather and the fluctuating cost of natural gas. However, PILOT revenue is generally considered to be a very stable form of revenue for cities across the country.
The decline of our gross receipts tax (license tax) on telecommunication companies continues to be a concern. The financial impact to the General Fund has been significant over the past 11 years, resulting in a loss of revenue of $2 million during this time. The City collects license tax from telephone and cable television services companies. The City Charter requires all telecommunication companies to pay a license tax of 6% of the gross receipts from such business and cable television service providers to pay a license tax of 5% of the gross receipts from such business. Most likely, telecommunication companies have been shifting the base of revenue from cell phone usage to data usage. In addition, the same legislation noted previously, Wayfair, eliminates one-half of the rate (2.5% of the 5% total cable franchise fee rate) over a five-year period beginning in August 2023, further eroding the municipal revenue stream. As a result, the General Fund is absorbing six of the positions in the Public Information Office originally funded by the cable franchise fee since the fee is being reduced by one-half over the five-year period. FY2023 gross receipts are projected to generate $4.4 million. The remainder of the other taxes are projected to total $760,000.
Licenses, fines, and other fee-based revenues are exceeding the FY2023 budget and are near FY2022 actuals, projecting to generate $8.8 million in revenue. We will continue to monitor business licensing and permitting activities as a sign of local economic health and stability.
FY2023 remaining resources, including transfers, reimbursements, and other revenue, are in line with the budget and are expected to generate $4.4 million. Total General Fund resources are projected to be $107.1 million for FY2023, approximately $4.9 million higher than budget.
The City continues to provide quarterly revenue targets to City Council to ensure the City is tracking within the revenue projections for each quarter. The City’s first quarterly revenue update for the General Fund revealed sales tax collections of $15.5 million received versus $13.6 million budgeted. Total revenue for the first quarter exceeded budget by approximately $2.1 million. This positive outcome was much better than anticipated along with the better-than-expected 4th quarter sales tax collections for FY2022.
The City’s second quarterly revenue update for the General Fund has continued to provide positive revenue trends. Total revenue exceeds budget expectations by almost $4.8 million for both quarters. These trends are continuing into the third quarter of FY2023.
Revenue Outlook 2024
We do expect growth in the retail sector to level out as we move through the next year. Inflationary pressure, higher interest rates, and geopolitical concerns will impact retail sales. Overall sales tax growth is projected to remain positive at 2% over the projected year-end. This represents an 11.6% increase from the FY2023 budget for sales tax. Use tax is projected to have a more modest increase in FY2024 compared to prior years. Use tax is projected to grow by 2.6% in FY2024. The net of both sales and use tax is a 9.2% increase in the FY2024 budget. PILOT revenue is projected to remain steady, an increase of approximately $1.3 million from the FY2023 budget due to increased cost of natural gas used in the production of electricity and used by customers.
Gross receipts tax revenues on telecommunication and cable television, listed under other taxes, will continue to create an impact over the next five years as mentioned previously. The increase in FY2024 in this revenue is due to absorbing the funding from the Telecable fund. Future budget years will see a decline. Licenses, fines, and other fee-based revenues have exceeded budget expectations for FY2023 and are anticipated to remain steady in FY2024. Total revenues are expected to generate $103.9 million, up from $94.3 million budgeted in FY2023. This represents a 10.2% increase.
With the anticipated increase in sales tax revenue, similar sales tax increases from the prior budget will also occur in the following funds: the 1/4-cent Capital Improvements Sales Tax (approximately $1,413,000 increase), the 1/8-cent Transportation Sales Tax (approximately $706,500 increase), the Police-Fire Pension Sales Tax (approximately $4,239,725 increase), the Law Enforcement Sales Tax (approximately $1,269,695 increase), and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board Sales Tax (approximately $1,357,250 increase).
Property tax provides a stable source of revenue for the Springfield Art Museum, Springfield-Greene County Park Board, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, and for voter-approved municipal purposes, city facilities, and public safety initiatives. Although property tax revenue does not typically show significant growth, the stability of this revenue source adds a small level of diversification to the City's revenue sources. In FY2024, property tax is expected to generate $24.4 million. This represents a 3% (or $711,000) increase from projected FY2023 revenue.
The focus of this budget is to address City Council’s priorities, employee recruitment and retention, the impact of inflation, and critical positions (listed below). Other ongoing needs include absorbing the Telecable fund positions and supplies, technology needs, and ongoing building maintenance and supplies. In addition, some critical one-time needs are funded by carry-over funds. This includes fire equipment and life-safety needs, police equipment, a building development services vehicle, building maintenance needs to preserve our facilities, information systems infrastructure needs, and investment in economic vitality activities.
In support of employee recruitment and retention, I am funding all requested career ladder advancements throughout the City. A larger funding commitment relates to the collective bargaining agreements with the Springfield Police Officers Association Lodge 22 (SPOA), the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 152 (IAFF), and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 753 (IBEW) employee unions. Because we are currently meeting with the three established unions, ongoing funding has been set-aside in the City Manager’s budget for pay plan improvements for all city employees. This set-aside is 62% of new money available for pay plan improvements. This commitment to employee recruitment and retention is paramount to retaining a high-quality workforce that is committed to community service. In addition, a study was completed of our workers’ compensation and liability insurance funding levels and rates in late 2022. The FY2024 budget includes the necessary increases to fully fund the new rate structures recommended to insure an adequate, healthy fund balance reserve.
The City recognizes the need to maintain adequate reserves. The General Fund reserves are strong at 20% of the annual General Fund budget. This level meets our reserve policy, is critical to maintain the City’s stellar credit rating, and is consistent with reserve levels recommended by industry best practices. This current budget does not contemplate utilization of reserve funds.
With the planned increases for both the workers' compensation and general liability insurance funds, the City will have sufficient levels of reserves to pay claims and remain at or near the recommended level as determined by the actuary. The self-insurance funds continue to contribute to the overall fiscal sustainability of the City.
The FY2024 budget includes continued funding based on the long-range plan of the Level Property Tax (LPT) initiative approved by voters on November 7, 2017. In addition to paying off the existing LPT debt, LPT revenue is used for many high-priority General Fund needs. LPT provides a dedicated revenue source for Police, Fire, and Public Works Department personnel and life-cycle vehicle and equipment replacement for those departments and the Information Systems Department. In addition, this revenue source funds specific voter-approved facilities such as fire stations, stormwater infrastructure, and other high-priority public improvements.
Without the renewal of the Level Property Tax, these activities would likely not be possible within our General Fund. In FY2024, the City will be completing the projects funded with the first LPT special obligation bond issue for capital projects. In February 2023, the City issued the second round of LPT special obligation bonds not to exceed $15.5 million to continue progress and improvements to Historic City Hall, a new Animal Shelter, a new Public Works Operations Building, reconstruction of an existing fire station, and improvements to existing fire stations. These projects would not have been possible without the renewal of the Level Property Tax.
The City has awarded and begun to disburse the $40.3 million of the American Rescue Plan Act funds (ARPA) received. These funds are not included in the annual operating budget, but updates will be provided to City Council and the public as progress continues.
New Positions - All Funds
The FY2024 budget reflects a total of 2,100 FTE (full-time equivalent) positions. This is an increase of 37 FTEs from the FY2023 budget. A total of 18.5 FTEs were added during FY2023 with City Council approval. As a review, 6 FTEs were new positions within Workforce Development for the $17.5 million American Rescue Plan Good Jobs Challenge grant, and 8 positions within Environmental Services were for operational and service needs. One position was also added for urgent Human Resources, employee relation needs. The remaining 3.5 were temporary positions converted to part-time FTEs for existing long-term services with Airport, Municipal Court, Parks, and Police.
A limited number of positions are being proposed in the FY2024 budget. This allows for greater pay improvements for existing employees and cautiousness in the event of a flattening economy. The 18.5 FTEs include: 6 FTEs in Public Works (Transportation and Project Funds), a net of 5 new FTEs in Parks Funds, 1.5 FTEs in the Airport Funds, and 1 FTE in Risk Management Funds. Three of the proposed FTEs are for the General Fund including a Building Development Services land use inspector, a senior city planner for Planning, and a senior GIS specialist to be shared between Planning and Economic Vitality, which will directly support the quality of place and economic vitality City Council priorities. The final 2 General Fund positions are for operational needs: a help desk administrator for Information Systems and an executive secretary for Municipal Court.
Non-General Fund Highlights
Springfield-Branson National Airport
The FY2024 budget for the Springfield-Branson National Airport (Airport) assumes a normalization of growth after a strong rebound from the pandemic in FY2022. The proposed operating budget of $19.73 million is up 4% compared to the current FY2023 operating budget as of December 2022. Continued growth in aviation activity and key revenue sources like auto parking and car rental concessions continue to show positive trends in the face of economic uncertainty and inflation. To go along with the increases in projected revenue, there will be improvements to employee compensation and increases to supplies and service expenses to meet aging facility needs. The increase in operating expenses is needed so that we can maintain our assets long-term, which is a key investment in our future growth. Ample debt service coverage is also provided by the proposed budget to ensure debt payments are well-funded and reserves can continue to grow. Pandemic relief funding will be exhausted soon, and the proposed budget does not utilize any federal grant funding for operating expenses or debt service. However, the proposed budget does reflect increases in grant funding for capital improvement projects that will begin in FY2024.
Springfield Art Museum
FY2024 will be a year of preparation for capital improvements, namely the expansion and renovation of the Museum’s facility anticipated to begin in January 2025. Over the past several fiscal years, the Museum has seen significant improvements to its grounds including the naturalization of Fassnight Creek as well as improvements to the Museum’s parking and Amphitheater. Much of this work was funded through capital improvement funds and other funds outside of the Museum, however, over three-quarters of the parking and Amphitheater improvements were funded through the Art Museum Special Projects Fund. Unfortunately, with rising construction costs, the Museum had to utilize reserves in this fund to complete this portion of the grounds. The FY2024 budget will focus on replenishing these reserves. The Museum anticipates an appropriation of $150,000 from the Friends of the Springfield Art Museum to replenish reserves used for these capital improvements and has budgeted a $150,000 surplus in FY2024 that will be used to replenish reserves.
The Museum will continue its ambitious exhibition schedule through FY2024 with nationally and internationally touring exhibitions as well as those organized from its Permanent Collection. The Museum anticipates continued growth with its educational programs and is working to reorganize its fundraising efforts to continue robust operational support in conjunction with its capital campaign. In addition, the Museum anticipates hiring a strategic planning consultant to assist the Museum with planning for the coming three-to-five years. The Museum will also hire an architecture firm to finalize the Museum’s expansion and renovation project and prepare for construction in FY2025. The strategic planning cost is included in the FY2024 budget and any cost for architectural services will be addressed through the budget adjustment process as necessary.
Environmental Services includes both the Clean Water Fund and the Solid Waste Fund
The City continues to work on meeting the investment obligations outlined in the Second Amended Consent Judgement with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). This plan outlines a total of $300 million in spending over a 15-year period in an effort to reduce Sanitary Sewer Overflows and improve water quality in the region. This approach will allow the City to maintain compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act while maintaining wastewater rates that are affordable to our citizens and competitive with the industry. In addition, the City continues to adjust to changing market conditions in the solid waste industry to ensure that the Integrated Solid Waste Management System is providing disposal and recycling options for our citizens. The Department is not adding any FTEs as part of this budget process.
Springfield-Greene County Health Department
The Springfield-Greene County Health Department has returned its focus to providing comprehensive public health services to the community while still responding to COVID-19. Supplemental funds have allowed for this continued response and recovery from COVID-19, which will persist into FY2024. The department continues to build diverse funding sources to protect the community’s health and respond to pressing health issues. In FY2024, the department will continue to refine positions and its organizational structure to meet these needs and align with the Foundational Public Health Services model.
Springfield-Greene County Park Board
Fortunately, Parks has been able to move past the pandemic challenges from 2020-21 and has returned to a mix of operations, programs, and events typically expected from the park system. There are many good things to look forward to with the coming fiscal year. With significant financial support from the State, City and local levels, the $22 million renovation of the Cooper Park soccer, softball, and baseball complex facility and installation of synthetic turf fields are moving forward. Our Dickerson Park Zoo will be proudly celebrating its 100-year anniversary. In addition, Parks will debut a new maintenance facility at Lake Springfield Park, continue the recent wave of donor-funded projects at our Springfield Botanical Gardens, and host the first multi-state pickleball championship event for the Springfield area.
Parks unfortunately still lacks a long-term sustainable funding source for projects, restoration, repairs, and park development. Since the sunset of the capital component of our 2006 Parks Sales Tax Initiative over ten years ago, the Park Board has operated without the ability to systematically address major facility repairs, park and trail development, program growth, and long-term land acquisition. The Park Board members and staff will continue to have critical conversations with the community regarding the inability to successfully address our growing financial liabilities and park system expectations. Parks will restore funding for three positions which had previously been eliminated in maintenance and recreation and add four additional positions for critical needs at the zoo, park operations, and recreation.
This year we have moved to an on-line budget book. This platform provides the same information as in prior years and the added ability to drill down to details across all departments and reports. Later this year, additional information will be made available to City Council and citizens which will provide real-time data from the City’s financial system and the ability to report on non-financial data as well.
As always, the total budget requests I received from our departments exceed our available funding. All the requests are needed and would improve the service we are able to provide our citizens; however, funding is limited. City Council’s priorities of public safety, fiscal sustainability, quality of place, and economic vitality have guided my efforts in the development of the FY2024 budget. In support of City Council’s priority of fiscal sustainability, this budget preserves the City’s financial stability while continuing to provide quality vital services to our community. In addition, there is continued emphasis on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the development review process to enhance our overall development competitiveness and significantly improve our nuisance abatement and dangerous structures process to ensure neighborhood stability and addressing City Council’s priority of quality of place.
The projected increase in sales tax revenue for FY2024 is significant due to the actual revenue we have experienced the last two years. We must carefully monitor both revenues and expenses during the upcoming year for signs of a recession. The City continues to be financially sound and prudent in our mission to serve our citizens, and we have earned the reputation of being a good steward of our community’s tax dollars. Your staff believes that the FY2024 budget is a major part of what will allow us to continue to prosper as a community. I am pleased to present this budget to you and look forward to discussing it with you and responding to your questions.
Jason A. Gage, ICMA-CM