The Osage Beach Board of Aldermen aired a word of concern regarding the city’s finances during a recent second quarter budget review.
Alderman Ron Schmitt told the board and city staff last week that “in my opinion, these figures do not bode well for the next six months.”
Ending estimated balances for 2013, based on numbers available through June 30, in six of nine funds is less than budgeted. Only the General, Ambulance and Grand Glaize Airport funds are projected to have higher ending balances than original estimated. Lower balances are projected in the Capital Improvement, Transportation, Water, Sewer, Lee C. Fine and Prewitt’s Point TIF funds.
But it’s the city’s primary source of revenue ― sales tax ― that has aldermen concerned. Through the first half of the fiscal year, the city is behind budget projects by about $108,802 in sales tax revenue.
According to Department of Revenue figures through July, the city has received $2,280,698 in sales tax revenue compared to a budget estimate of $2,389,500. It’s important to note that sales tax collections are always two months behind the month in which they were collected. In this instance, the July-to-date figures are actually through May.
That prompted Alderman John Olivarri to note that the city’s largest revenue producing months are ahead.
Echoing Schmitt’s comments, Alderman Kevin Rucker said he was “concerned as well” although he felt there was some confusion in looking at the figures. He noted that project expenses and revenues often fall into different budget years, and the mixing of projects can get confusing. He pointed out that with half of the year past, citywide revenues are at 42.98 percent, but expenditures are only at 39.41 percent.
Alderman Steve Kahrs is also watching sales tax revenue closely.
“My biggest concern is the $108,000 in sales tax revenue. We can’t continue to have short falls in sales tax, and there hasn’t been any expansion in sales tax,” he said.
Alderman John Olivarri said he, too, has concerns about the sales tax numbers. He noted that two new major malls will be opening on the west side of St. Louis, and that could impact Osage Beach sales numbers as visitors spend their money there rather than at the Osage Beach Premium Outlets.
But Mayor Penny Lyons took a different approach, noting the city has new businesses and projects on the horizon. “People are investing in the city,” she said.
Rucker said it’s the board’s responsibility to look at the big picture and the staff’s to look at the small picture. Sales tax is down, he noted, but expenses are less as well.
Page 2 of 2 - “We need to be aware of it and that’s Nancy’s job, and we’ll be watching over Nancy’s shoulder,” Olivarri added.
Peddlers and solicitors
Second reading and approval were given to an ordinance tightening regulations for peddlers, solicitors or canvassers that are standing or walking on roadways resulting in stalled or obstructed traffic.
In response to a question about picketers along Osage Beach Parkway near Dierbergs, City Attorney Ed Rucker said the ordinance “does nothing to move them off public right or way. They have a first amendment right.”
It could be a problem if the picketers obstruct passage along the sidewalks with chairs or their presence, he said.