$5M Wright City budget includes collection of potential projects

Adam Rollins, Staff Writer
Posted 1/21/22

The Wright City government’s $5 million budget for the 2022 year shows several considerations for the future goals of the city, including salary increases to recruit and retain staff, along …

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$5M Wright City budget includes collection of potential projects

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The Wright City government’s $5 million budget for the 2022 year shows several considerations for the future goals of the city, including salary increases to recruit and retain staff, along with funding to potentially begin planning future street improvements while other major projects are carried out.

The Wright City Board of Aldermen voted 4-0 in December to approve the budget for the year. The city’s revenue forecast for the year is just under $2.5 million, which includes increases in the expected receipts from sales and property taxes, according to budget documents.

Expenses for daily operations and public services, including things like street repairs, groundskeeping, policing, park programs and administration, are budgeted at about $2.9 million. Another $2.6 million is budgeted toward new and ongoing major projects, such as park construction and major street reconstruction.

Aldermen approved a 3% raise for city staff this year, along with increased contributions to the LAGERS retirement plan for public employees. City leaders said they want their pay and benefits to keep the city as an attractive employer.

“One of our commitments this year was to increase retirement (contributions) for city workers. That hadn’t been adjusted in more than a couple years,” explained Mayor Michelle Heiliger. “Trying to get better benefits draws more people to want to work for the city.”

City Administrator Jim Schuchmann added that individual contributions for employees toward their retirement plan are also going up, but that all together the increased pay to LAGERS now will lead to an even greater payoff for employees in the future when they retire.

The most expensive part of daily operations for Wright City is the police department, with $1.4 million in costs budgeted this year. The vast majority of that is salary and benefits for staff.

The next most expensive categories for daily operations are the staffing and various expenses for city administration at $467,000. That’s followed by the city public works department’s staffing, equipment and material costs which total $427,000.

Major projects

Aldermen included more than a dozen major city projects in Wright City’s budget this year, totaling $2.6 million in estimated costs. However, there’s no guarantee every project will actually be initiated this year — a budget is just a guiding plan for spending, not a firm commitment, explained Schuchmann.

The budget for these projects adds up to more than the city’s total annual income. Wright City can afford to run such a deficit because it still has a surplus of funds from the $10.5 million sale of its water and sewer utilities in 2018. Part of the promise of that utility sale is that the money would go toward a new park on Westwoods Road and street improvements around the city.

Aldermen hit the ground running in this budget category this month, approving a $1.6 million bid to start groundwork at the Westwoods park.

The city also has $100,000 budgeted to complete renovations at its police headquarters, along with $125,000 for new tornado sirens, both of which are carryover items from last year.

Here are some other major initiatives aldermen have set aside money to possibly begin this year:

• $300,000 for improvements at the Diekroeger Park playground
• $30,000 to update existing park restrooms
• $150,000 for street and stormwater engineering in the downtown area
• $100,000 each for five projects to fund engineering for future street improvements: North West Second Street, Bell Road, Westwoods Road, Roelker Road, and a new road that would go past a new Wright City High School site off of Roelker Road.

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