Deep Freeze: 2011 Budget Makes No Change to Hiring and Cost of Living Raises
O'Fallon City Council passed the budget unanimously.
Under the approved budget the city will maintain a hiring freeze for the second year in a row.
Director of Finance Vicki Boschert said there will also be no cost of living increase for city employees; however, employees who have not reached the top of the pay scale will be eligible to receive merit raises.
The council voted down Mayor Bill Hennessy's proposed extra week of paid time off for city employees who have reached the top of the pay scale.
"I feel these folks—in tough times, they've been here long enough—they've been here many years and they're not getting a pay raise—I feel they deserve an extra week," Hennessy said at Thursday's meeting.
Ward 3 Council member John Haman, Jr. voiced his disagreement.
"Our pay scale is set up a certain way, if they're topped out they're topped out," he said. "A lot of our tax paying residents don't have jobs right now. I feel for the ones that are topped out, the economy is bad—but it's bad for everybody."
The 2011 budget projects that the city will bring in revenue of about $70.3 million, which Boschert says is a decrease of just 1 percent from 2010. She projects the city will receive $28 million in general revenue in 2011. Boschert noted while overall revenue in the city has declined, the general revenue fund is growing. General funds pay for public safety, city hall operations and other operating expenses of the city.
The city will receive more than $500,000 from a statewide settlement with T-Mobile over improper payment of taxes.
"We're going to receive funds in January of approximately $565,000," Boschert said.
The settlement fund will be spent on capital projects.
"Since it's one-time revenue, it will be used for one-time projects," city spokesman Tom Drabelle said.
Boschert added that major priorities for this year's budget include improving city technology, customer service and infrastructure. Projects include:
- Looking into installing citizen's request software that allows residents to communicate with the city online
- An upgrade to the city's telephone system, installed in 1995 and has not been updated
- Software updates for human resources
- Automatic ticket writers and vehicle video cameras for O'Fallon Police.
- Adding a parking lot and restrooms to Westhoff Park
- Storm water projects, the largest being Parkview Creek Stabilization Project
- Construction and road projects
With revenue projected at $70.3 million and expenditures of $87.6 million, the city faces a funding gap of about $17 million.
Boschert said $13.3 million of the difference is in escrow, earmarked to refund a 2007 general obligations bond issue originally issued to pay for the Alligator Creek swimming pool, improvements to Dames Park and construction at Renaud Spirit Center. Another $739,000 is in the storm water and sewer fund that will be spent on capital projects in 2011.
Drabelle said the rest is accumulative minor differences in various funds like street and road improvement and parks fund.
Originally the city anticipated a 3.8 percent decrease in sales tax revenue for 2010, the city's largest revenue source. Boschert said the city now expects a 1.5 percent increase, but is not banking on it.
"We didn't budget an increase, although we are hopeful," she said.
The city utility tax, another major source of revenue, is expected to increase 3 percent by the end of 2010.
The city also will be reimbursed 100 percent if they use the entire $340,000 federal grant received for the Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program (LIWAP).