The basics of City Manager Bill Watkins' proposed budget for fiscal 2010
Friday, July 31, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:09 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 31, 2009


Utility bills

Average monthly utility bills for residential customers would rise by $8.70, the result of voter-approved bond issues and higher operating expenses. Here’s the breakdown:

  •  Refuse collection: No increase
  •  Sewer: 15 percent, or $2.11
  •  Water: 8 percent, or $1.73
  •  Electric: 5 percent, or $4.86

Health fees

Many fees for services from the Columbia-Boone County Department of Health and Human Services would rise. Food inspection fees would apply to schools and licensed child-care centers. Not-for-profits would not be exempt from inspection fees for temporary events. Sports and work physicals will be eliminated. Here are some examples of fee increases:

  • State vaccines for children would rise from $10 to $15.
  • Other purchased vaccines would rise from $10 to $15.
  • TB tests would be offered at cost plus a $10 administration fee, raised from a $5 fee.
  • A formerly free visit to the STD clinic would cost $10.
  • Pregnancy tests would be offered at the cost of the test plus a $5 administration fee, raised from a $2 fee.
  • Lab tests would be offered at cost plus a $15 drawing fee, raised from a $5 fee.

Parks and Recreation fees

Fees for many parks, aquatics and other recreation activities would rise. Here are some examples:

  • Adult softball game fees would rise from $29 to $34 per game.
  • Adult basketball games would rise from $35 to $40 per game.
  • The special park use fee and the park wedding fee would rise from $25 to $30.
  • Adult and youth activity fees would rise from $1.35 to $1.60.
  • Active Kids Club summer program would rise from $25 to $30 per week.
  • Active Kids Club school year program would rise from $3 to $4 per day.
  • Children’s recreational swim passes would rise from $2.25 to $2.50.
  • Adult recreational swim passes would rise from $3.50 to $3.75.


  •  Clark Lane from Route PP to St. Charles Road: $2.74 million
  • Mexico Gravel Road from Vandiver Drive to Route PP: $1.74 million
  • Rolling Hills Road from New Haven Road to Route WW: $556,500
  • Williams Street, including intersection improvements at Broadway: $205,000
  • West Broadway study: $500,000
  • Maguire Boulevard and Warren Drive to New Haven Road: $200,000
  • Eastside sidewalks: $532,366
  • American Legion ballpark renovation: $200,000
  • Brown Station Park improvements: $13,000
  • Hickman Pool renovation: $39,000
  • Indian Hills Park improvements: $130,000
  • Lange Neighborhood Park development: $45,000
  • Russell Property development: $300,000
  • Hominy Branch Trail: $445,000
  • Scott's Branch-Russell property development: $680,000
  •  Furnishings for remodeled buildings: $500,000
  • Repairs to Tenth and Cherry streets parking garage: $466,200
  • Replace roof on Columbia Regional Airport terminal: $185,000


City Manager Bill Watkins proposed a number of reductions in employee benefits and recommended no raises. He also proposed $50,000 for curriculum development and training to help prepare employees to fill future management positions.

Changes to employee benefits:

  • A 7 percent increase in the health insurance premiums for retirees and employees with dependents. This will only cover the increased cost of health care to the city.
  • When buying back sick leave from employees with more than 1,040 hours accumulated, the city would pay only 50 percent of the worker’s hourly wage rather than the current 75 percent. Expected savings are $200,000.
  • The city would change its overtime compensation by not recognizing leave time and holidays as hours worked. Savings could reach $1 million.
  • The city would stop contributing to the Post-Employment Health Plan, which would save about $351,000 per year.


Watkins would add a net of only 2.5 new employees, the smallest number since 1999. It would increase personnel costs by 1 percent. Last year's budget added 26 net  positions. Most position reductions will be through attrition and eliminating vacant positions. But there will be three layoffs: a recreation services worker, a Finance Department administrative assistant and a community service aide in the Police Department.

  • The Police Department would eliminate a community service aide and two police officers but add two officers to the traffic unit and two police lieutenants. The entire Community Services Unit would be eliminated.
  • The Fire Department would shift some employees to under-staffed stations rather than hire new workers.
  • A new Neighborhood Services Office would be created and staffed by employees from the Health, Public Works and Public Communications departments as well as a police officer and a part-time city attorney.
  • The part-time attorney for the Neighborhood Services Office would spend the other part of his or her time staffing the new Citizens Review Board.
  • Two recreation positions would be eliminated, including the layoff.
  • A railroad administrator position would not be filled.
  • Three building inspector positions would not be filled and an additional public works position would be cut. Six full-time employees and one part-time employee will be added to Public Works in various divisions.
  • The business ombudsman position proposed by Watkins last year would not be filled.
  • A sustainability manager would be added to the workforce, as well as an assistant to the city clerk's office.
  • The city will reduce spending on temporary city employees by about $470,000.


The Columbia City Council will hold work sessions and public hearings on the budget over the next several weeks. Here’s the schedule:

  • Aug. 17: The council will hold its first public hearing on the budget and will hear funding recommendations from the Community Development Commission, the Community Services Advisory Commission, the Public Communications Resources Advisory Commission and the Cultural Affairs Commission. 6 p.m., council chambers, 701 E. Broadway.
  • Aug. 24, 26 and 27: The council will have work sessions with city department heads on their individual budgets. The city has not yet determined which department budgets will be presented when. 6 p.m., council chambers.
  • Sept. 8: A second public hearing during the council’s regular meeting. 7 p.m., council chambers.
  • Sept. 21: Final public hearing on the budget and scheduled vote by the council. 7 p.m., council chambers.
  • Oct. 1: Budget takes effect at the beginning of fiscal year 2010.

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