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City prepares for fiscal year

Although the fiscal year does not begin until Oct. 1, members of the Bonne Terre City Council discussed the first-draft budget for 2019-20 with accountant Greg Shinn of Thurman, Shinn & Co. during their monthly city council meeting Monday. 

City Administrator Shawn Kay said there’s no rush on the budget, and that’s the point. He wanted to give the council an extra month to digest the city’s budget before it was finalized.

“In years past, council members would be presented with a budget to approve in September’s meeting,” he said. “That just felt, to me, like not enough time to really look things over and figure out where the money was going, where it needed to go, and what we wanted to achieve.

“I’m really fortunate to have a board that’s interested in looking over the budget and asking questions.”

The budget, to be effective Oct. 1, takes into account three years’ worth of budget information to project next year’s numbers. The extra discussion appeared to have illuminated a few revenue and collection streams that have changed.

One stream concerns fine collections. In May, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld provisions challenged in SB 5, which essentially caps the amount of fines municipalities can collect. The original legislation, passed in 2015, stemmed from a U.S. Department of Justice report in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting. The report accused City of Ferguson municipal courts of using fine and fee collections as an unethical revenue stream and an “abusive fundraising tool.”

As a result, fine and fee collections in Missouri municipalities can add up to only a certain percentage of the city’s overall budget. It remains to be determined how it might affect Bonne Terre’s future budget, but according to council members, it should have a withering effect. Previous months might have averaged about $10,000 in court collections. In June, the city collected $3,200. Shinn suggested projecting next year’s budget based on fines collected rather than on fines issued, since failure-to-pay discrepancies can often arise.

Sewer and water collections might also see a reduction since Monterey Mushrooms closed their doors in May. The processor and canner of mushrooms had been a staple in Bonne Terre’s workforce for more than 40 years, and was a major customer of Bonne Terre utilities.

On the upside, another budget change the council discussed comes from the city’s first-ever property tax, passed April 2 after several failed attempts during the 1990s. The property tax is projected to bring in $190,000.

Kay said the council will have another work session to fine-tune the budget, approving the final 2019-20 draft at the Sept. 9 council meeting.

Time at Monday’s council meeting was also devoted to a request to close St. Joseph Street from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today for the Bonne Terre Food Pantry’s food fair. St. Vincent De Paul President Diane Nowak said 25,000 pounds of food will be given to 200 voucher-holding families over three hours, which will mean as many as 200 vehicles flooding the former St. Joseph School parking lot. Nowak worked with Lt. Bill Stegall Wednesday morning to analyze the traffic flow pattern and additional logistics.

The police department had a busy summer writing a “record number” of cleanup citations and abatements, due to the temporary employment of North County R-1 Resource Officer Jamie Crump.

“Since he’s a resource officer, we were able to use him almost in a full-time capacity for the months of June, July and a little bit of August,” Calvert said. “He was able to keep the city from abating a lot of things. He was able to get the vehicles moved because he had all day to go back and forth and work with the folks and say, ‘I won’t cite you, but you have to get these moved.’”

Calvert said nuisance abatement could easily be a “year-round” position, one he’d like to include in his budget.

In Kay’s city administrator report, he noted the baseball field irrigation project is complete and the sod has been laid except for the area near Field Two dugouts. MAC’s baseball team is scheduled Thursday to help lay out the fields with bases.

The city-owned Parkview Apartments is nearly filled with only six out of 63 units available. Manager Cher Robinson said calls keep coming from potential tenants.

In other city business, the council:

  • Received only one bid for Parkview Apartments security cameras, so acceptance was tabled until additional bids could be obtained.
  • Unanimously approved an ordinance amending and replatting a portion of Lakewood Subdivision, Lots 2 and 3, Block 5, of the fourth addition to the Lakewood Subdivision.
  • Unanimously vetoed an ordinance that would have established a no-parking zone on the west side of Service Street, beginning at Oak Street and ending at Butch Keen Drive, choosing to instead enforce the ordinance that prohibits driveways from being blocked.
  • Unanimously approved authorizing Kay to contract with Gibson Quality Roofing and Construction to repair the hail-damaged roof at Parkview Apartments.
  • Discussed allocating an area in front of the Bonne Terre Park Community Center for drop-offs, unloading and loading.
  • Approved Kay to contract with McDowell Electric and Ameren to buy and install lighting for the soccer field.
  • Discussed First Baptist Church’s request to split a lot at 13 Mound St. Currently a residential garage is on church property, but the neighboring house was once a parsonage. The church is seeking to return the garage to the property of the former parsonage.
Bonne Terre City Attorney Seth Pegram, foreground left, listens to Treasurer Greg Shinn, right, present a preliminary budget for FY 2019-20 to Aldermen Erik Schonhardt, Alderwoman Andrea Richardson, Mayor Brandon Hubbard, City Administrator Shawn Kay, Alderwoman Julie Williams Hawn, and Alderman Bruce Pratte. Changes to various revenue streams were discussed. Also pictured is Lt. Chief Bill Stegall. 

Bonne Terre City Attorney Seth Pegram, foreground left, listens to Treasurer Greg Shinn, right, present a preliminary budget for FY 2019-20 to Aldermen Erik Schonhardt, Alderwoman Andrea Richardson, Mayor Brandon Hubbard, City Administrator Shawn Kay, Alderwoman Julie Williams Hawn, and Alderman Bruce Pratte. Changes to various revenue streams were discussed. Also pictured is Lt. Chief Bill Stegall. 

Sarah Haas is the assistant editor for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or at shaas@dailyjournalonline.com.

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