Wright City, MO, aldermen approved the municipal budget for 2024 during the December 28 meeting. It's the first time the city hasn't had a deficit.
The Wright City Board of Aldermen approved the 2024 budget during the Dec. 28 meeting.
It’s the first time in at least four years that the budget has been balanced, Mayor Michelle Heiliger said during the meeting.
“That is super exciting,” she said. “This board spent an excess of 50 hours just on this budget this year.”
City officials said to balance the budget, tough decisions had to be made.
“There are line items that we had to make a little smaller and we had to move some money around and we had to get a little bit creative on how we thought we were going to make stuff work.”
Heiliger said the board “learned a ton” as they pieced together the balanced budget.
“We have definitely learned how to prioritize,” she said. “We have definitely learned where our important things need to lie at all times and where we need to build in our safety nets.”
Work on the budget was not finalized until Dec. 27, Alderwoman Karey Owens said. Heiliger said during the meeting that city department heads would soon be sent the newly approved budget.
“I know there’ll be parts of it you’re going to look at and go ‘oh, I’m so sad,” Heiliger said.
“We were sad, too,” Alderman Ramiz Hakim said in response.
Owens said the budget would be made available to the public soon. She said hard copies would be made available, and a digital copy would soon be available on the city’s website and aldermen Facebook pages.
Hakim explained how and why the city had been running deficits for so long.
“When the city made the decision to sell the water system, that cut revenue drastically for the city,” he said. “A big lump of money came in that was used to keep the city afloat, hopefully to the day where somebody could come up with a solution to balance the budget.”
He credited city residents for that solution when voters approved a sales tax increase in April 2023.
“Thanks to the voters of the community, we’ve been able to bring in about half a million dollars for our roads and for our general operating fund with that,” he said. “In addition to us being fiscally responsible since the selling of the water system, we are now back at a surplus. I think we have a surplus of $50,000. And so we’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
Keeping the budget balanced should also be easier for the city moving forward, Heiliger said.
“The future looks bright. We’ve got businesses coming here, we’ve got a lot of interest in our city,” she said. “So these are just more signs of good things to come. But in addition to that, we have to hold to our budget. … It’ll be a little bit challenging, but we can do this. We can make this happen.”
As part of holding to the budget, Heiliger said the city intends to do a six month budget report starting in June 2024.
“In June, we will sit down with the budget again and review,” she said. “At that point, we’ll have a better idea of what our tax income is from the new taxes, our growth, businesses coming in, and it will give us a better idea of what our cash flow is going to look like going forward and then we’ll re-evaluate at that time.”
Aldermen approved the budget by a vote of 4-0.
About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at firstname.lastname@example.org