Citing possible public perceptions, and not wanting to see a budget document that has a $600,000 spending deficit for the next year, the Trenton City Council Tuesday evening voted to reject the proposed amended budget and requested another revision that can be voted on at the next meeting.
On a separate matter, approval was given to a new purchase of extrication equipment to replace a set that’s described as 20 years old.
Citing a City Hall mistake in figuring revenues for the fiscal year beginning in May, the council was faced with an amended budget which showed an extra $237,000 added to the projected deficit. That new projection showed expenses exceeding revenues for the one-year period by $603,000. The previously-approved budget had contained a $366,000 deficit. Then a mistake was found in the tax revenue calculations.
Councilwoman Cathie Smith called it a “fluke” – a mistake that won’t happen again. She was the only council member voting Yes on the motion to adopt the amended city budget, showing on paper at least, the higher deficit. Seven other councilmen voted No. They are Glen Briggs, Kevin Klinginsmith, Danny Brewer, Marvin Humphreys, Dave Mlika, Duane Urich, and John Dolan. Another concern for some councilmen was seeing the city fund balance drop to $1,616,000 on April 30 of 2022.
City Attorney Tara Walker explained if the council wanted to change something else in the budget, it would be best to reject what was presented last evening and come back at the next meeting to consider identified revisions.
City officials say budgets by their nature are developed conservatively on revenues and high on expenditures. But several council members wanted to see budgeted revenues closer in line with the revenues likely to be received. In effect, that reduces the amount listed for a deficit.
Of particular interest to the council is increased sales of asphalt at Trenton’s new plant. City Administrator Ron Urton said the fiscal year budget projects the city will sell 13 thousand tons of asphalt produced locally and generating $1,000,000. When asked, Urton said the Department of Transportation last fall indicated a desire to purchase 22 to 25 tons of asphalt from Trenton. The plant also sells asphalt to contractors other than MoDOT so the city is hopeful those sales will increase.
Urton said the current selling price is $72 a ton which can be adjusted monthly based on expenses for products used in the asphalt making process. Using this information, the revision to be included when another budget ordinance is prepared and presented to the council is to increase the anticipated asphalt sales by $300,000. In effect, that will reduce Trenton’s budget deficit to $303,399.
It also was noted that the current budget for the year ending April 30th had a deficit of $115,000 but during the course of the year, it’s anticipated to now show a balance or gain of as much as $409,000. That’s a half-million dollar change in which revenues will now exceed expenditures for the current fiscal year.
Fire Chief Brandon Gibler presented an issue with extrication equipment and offered a solution for the council to consider. Gibler explained the hydraulics spreader failed during a training opportunity. Parts, he said, were not available due to the age of the original tools. It was his recommendation to buy new extrication equipment that’s battery-operated and not hydraulic.
The cost is $45,000 but he noted money is available in the fire department sales tax account. That voter-approved tax generates $175,000 per year for equipment, training, and operations. Since the tax started being collected Gibler said, the fund has grown to $272,000 – some of which is a “reserve or rainy day” fund. In the meantime, Gibler said the Trenton Fire Department – if and when needed — can use extrication equipment belonging to the Grundy County Rural Fire Protection District.