Marthasville will spend down reserves; Budget retains police funding

By Adam Rollins, Record Staff Writer
Posted 11/7/19

The Marthasville Board of Aldermen has approved an operating budget for its 2017-18 fiscal year that includes major spending on waterline and street improvements, as well as an allowance for a police …

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Marthasville will spend down reserves; Budget retains police funding


The Marthasville Board of Aldermen has approved an operating budget for its 2017-18 fiscal year that includes major spending on waterline and street improvements, as well as an allowance for a police department that was officially disbanded.The planned expenses would draw almost $600,000 out of the city’s reserve funds, which were close to a total of $2.6 million at the end of June, according to the city’s budget document.Mayor David Lange said the city is running a deficit to make up for years of not spending tax money on the types of public projects it was collected for.“The city isn’t meant to be a savings and loan,” Lange said. “If you’re taxing people, you should either spend the money or give it back to them.”Lange highlighted some major budget items during a public meeting June 28.The city has a cost-sharing agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to replace and expand sidewalk along Highway D, for which Marthasville has budgeted $100,000. MoDOT’s share of the project would be about $240,000 to $250,000.An ongoing study of the city’s waterline system is set to cost up to $200,000 over the next year. The recently approved budget document indicates more than $127,000 was spent on that study and other waterline improvement projects during the last 12 months.Lange said the study is in preparation for upgrading the city’s water reservoir.“This project may just get designed this fiscal year. Construction may not start,” Lange explained. “If construction would start, the total cost would be over $1 million.”Even if such a project began this year, the city wouldn’t have much trouble affording it. Marthasville has more than $1 million accumulated in a fund set aside specifically for the city’s water services, according to the budget document. Income into that fund is expected to include about $100,000 in water bill payments and $65,000 from local sales taxes.But the current budget assumes only the study will be conducted this year. Combined with other operation and improvement costs, the city’s water fund reserve will drop by about $160,500.Marthasville also has $100,000 from its sewer fund earmarked for expanding and improving the city’s wastewater system. That plus the cost of operating and maintaining the wastewater system will reduce the sewer fund reserve from more than $454,000 to just under $374,000, even after an estimated revenue of $108,000 from sewer bill payments.There are no expansion projects in Marthasville’s street fund budget — the sidewalk improvement is out of a separate capital fund — but $80,000 is set aside just for repairs and maintenance on existing streets. Last year’s budget was the same, but the city only spent around $48,000. In 2015-2016, the city spent $167,000 out of a $180,000 street repair budget.It is common for cities not to spend all of the money budgeted for a particular purpose.“The budget is a general guideline,” Lange said. “The numbers aren’t a guarantee for income or expenditures.”Marthasville’s general fund budget, which covers a broad range of city services and staffing, has a forecasted income of $306,000. Budgeted expenses for that fund total a little over $480,000. That would draw down the general fund reserve from about $732,000 to about $558,000.Police gone, funds remainResidents at Marthasville’s June 28 budget meeting questioned why almost $39,000 remains in the city’s budget for a police department, despite the board of aldermen’s decision earlier this year to disband the Marthasville Police Department.The department consisted of a full-time police chief and had a vacant position for a part-time officer when it was disbanded. City leaders said they dissolved the department to save money. Last year’s budget for the department was over $64,000.Members of the public who wanted to know if that budget item represents a chance of the police department returning in some fashion didn’t get the answers they were looking for at the public meeting. Lange maintained an ongoing policy of not answering questions directed at the board during public session. That seemed to frustrate attendees.“I thought a public hearing was a dialogue between everybody back and forth to answer questions, explain different things,” said Becky Adams.Angela Carr, who also attended, expressed confusion about how residents are supposed to get information if not at public meetings.“When do we get answers to any of these things?” Carr asked. “You were all elected because we thought you represented our interests. It really does not feel or look that way at all, if it’s never transparent, if it’s never explained why your decisions are made.”Lange’s reply: Call your aldermen representatives. Citizens can call any time and ask whatever they want, he said. The board just doesn’t answer questions during meetings, because “we’re not going to get into a big brouhaha,” Lange said.During a following phone call, Lange declined to explain why funds remained budgeted to the police department. It was the board of aldermen’s decision and does not signify one way or another any intention of reinstating the police department, Lange said.Budget