City to hold first hearings on 2011 budget proposal

Sunday, August 15, 2010 | 6:06 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The first in a series of public hearings on the proposed $385.5 million city budget for fiscal 2011 is scheduled for Monday night's Columbia City Council meeting.

The meeting will begin an hour earlier than usual, at 6 p.m., in the council chambers of the new City Hall building, 701 E. Broadway.

Although the public is welcome to comment on any aspect of the budget, which was released by City Manager Bill Watkins in late July, the council is encouraging comment on specific aspects of the budget plan.

The first hearing will entertain input on the Special Business District budget, which proposes total spending of $228,868, up about $4,000 from the current year.

The council also is soliciting comment on grant recommendations from the Community Services Advisory Commission, the Community Development Commission, the Cultural Affairs Commission and the Public Communication Resources Advisory Commission.

Those groups, respectively, issue annual suggestions for how the city ought to dole out social services grants; federal Community Development Block Grants and HOME funds; grants to arts organizations; and grants for community education and awareness campaigns.

Watkins' overall budget includes $72.1 million in general fund expenses, which covers the traditional day-to-day operations of city government. That’s down about 1.1 percent from the current year. The budget also calls for $263.8 million in total operating expenses, which would be a 0.2 percent increase.

The council will hold more public hearings on the budget during its regular meetings in September and plans a final vote on its budget during its last September meeting. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Missourian reporter Brad Racino contributed to this report.

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