With revenues projected to end just slightly below budget for 2013, the City of Laurie will maintain budget levels from 2013 to 2014 with the Laurie Board of Aldermen approving the 2014 budget at its Dec. 18 meeting.

With revenues projected to end just slightly below budget for 2013, the City of Laurie will maintain budget levels from 2013 to 2014 with the Laurie Board of Aldermen approving the 2014 budget at its Dec. 18 meeting.

Total general fund revenue is estimated to reach $686,100 with expenses of $664,255.04.

In comparison, the projected total revenue for 2013 was $685,750 and $694,050 for 2012.

"Again, the 2014 budget will be a challenge to maintain without compromising city services and using reserve funds. The city will continue to provide the best services while continuing to do with less," Mayor Herb Keck stated in his budget message.

The city has had to cut its budget over the last several years as the municipality's main funding source - sales tax revenue - began dropping in 2007 and now remains stagnant. Laurie does levy a property tax.

Since 2007, the 1 cent sales tax income fell from a peak that year of $433,654.44 to $397,172.20 in 2010. In 2012, the total revenue from the 1 cent sales tax totaled $408,769.77.

November 2013 sales tax revenue received in December totaled $45,711.53, down from 2012 by $1,966.68. Year-to-date, the revenue was down from 2012 by $25,729.36 with total year-to-date collections at $351,519.65.

December sales tax revenue will be reported in January, and it is being estimated that the December revenue will bump the total up for the year to $382,991 - about 4 percent less than anticipated in the 2012 budget.

After analysis of 2013 revenues, the 1-cent sales tax revenue has been projected to reach $400,000 in 2014.

Projections for interest income and revenue from court fines, merchant licenses and permits have been reduced based on 2013 figures.

All is not grim news for revenue though.

The city has budgeted small increases in the franchise tax to reflect the business of Summit Natural Gas as well as Lexsar Solutions and Charter, according to City Clerk Olive Wood. Motor vehicle tax revenues have also been increased based on 2013 figures.

On the expense side, 2013 projections are being estimated to fall about 1 percent below budget. Reserve funds will be used to cover the difference which likely be around 2-3 percent after final totals are tabulated in January, Wood said.

In 2014, city employees will continue to bear the brunt of budget cuts due to the stagnation.

For the third year in a row, there will be no wage increases for city employees in any department.

The police department is further cutting its budget by minimizing overtime through the use of reserves - cutting the officer wages line by approximately $6,000.

Health insurance for employees, however, continues to rise as it does nationwide. The city will see an 11.48 percent increase in that line item as well as a 2 percent increase for dental coverage.

Another 3 percent increase will hit the city for the Missouri Workers Compensation and Second Injury Fund.

With a new city hall, the 2014 budget may be more fluid than in year's past, according to Keck. Some budget adjustments throughout the year are anticipated as a result of unknown costs that may arise from the new building.

While there were several capital expense requests considered during a budget work session earlier in December, the board has put those projects on hold to be reconsidered on an as-needed basis.

The capital requests included items such as building and surfacing a separate drive into the new city hall estimated at $93,000, $5,000 to purchase a sickle mower for mowing street right of ways, $25,000 to add two lift station SCADA units, $3,000 to add a fire hydrant and another $3,000 to add one flush hydrant to the system. The board also considered and rejected purchasing a new trailer for hauling city mowers as the current one has suspension problems as well as replacing the computer used for the sewer system. A $66,000 estimate for street repairs to Missouri Blvd., Dogwood Ln. and Bluebird Ln. was also not included in the budget.

The parks and events budget is separate from the general fund. Revenue for the events budget is projected to reach $102,890 with expenses of $101,040.

Water & Sewer

The Laurie Board of Aldermen signed off on the 2014 budget for the water and sewer system funds Dec. 18 as well a three percent rate increase for users of both systems that will take effect starting in the April billing.

According to Mayor Herb Keck, the increase is necessary to comply with bond restrictions, and the increase is still 10 percent less than required by the city's bond agreement.

The three percent rate increase will raise the user fee for water from $9.03 per thousand gallons (billable to the nearest 10 gallons) to $9.26. The sewer rate will go from $7.26 per thousand gallons (again, billable to the nearest 10 gallons) to $7.47.

Revenue for the water system from user fees was projected to increase from the budgeted $262,150 in 2013 to $268,900 in 2014. With revenues from installation fees, late fees and other miscellaneous income, the total water system revenue budgeted for 2014 is $276,000.

Water system costs are budgeted at $234,542 for 2014, up from the 2013 budget of $218,950. With $28,000 earmarked to go into the water system's debt service reserves, total expenses of $262,542 are anticipated.

Sewer revenues from user fees are budgeted to increase from $246,000 to $254,000. With interest income, impact fees and other miscellaneous income, revenue to cover sewer operational expenses are projected to total $258,200.

User fees for water service must cover the system's debt service as well as operation and maintenance expenses, but the user fees for the sewer system only cover operations and maintenance.

Revenue from a 1/2-cent capital improvement sales tax covers the sewer system's debt service. It is projected to bring in $197,000 in 2014.

Sewer operational costs are budgeted at $203,725 - close to the $202,950 budgeted in 2013.

The debt service for the sewer system - paid by the sales tax - is anticipated to be $181,406. The sales tax will also cover a budgeted $19,000 for repairs and maintenance.

With debt service reserves for the sewer system at $31,000, the total sewer expense budget is $435,131.

The total expense budget for both systems is $638,673. With total revenues of $741,200 anticipated, a surplus of $92,572 is projected.