COLUMBIA — In his first proposed budget as city manager, Mike Matthes recommended no tax increases for Columbia residents.
The budget proposal for the 2012 fiscal year includes maintenance for sidewalks and streets, reduction of bus services and a pay raise for city employees, which they haven't seen in two years.
- 6 p.m. on Aug. 15, at the City Council meeting, council chambers, 701 E. Broadway
- 7 p.m. on Sept. 6, at the City Council meeting, council chambers, 701 E. Broadway
- 7 p.m. on Sept. 19, at the City Council meeting, council chambers, 701 E. Broadway
The proposal was released Friday morning on the main page of the city's website, gocolumbiamo.com.
Taxes and fees
Matthes recommended a modest fee increase for water, recreation, transit, sewer, parking and solid waste services. The average utility increase would be $4.49 per month for residents, according to the proposal.
Although the tax rate would remain flat, the revenue the city is projecting from sales taxes and property taxes is projected to grow by 2 percent. The increase, according to the budget report, reflects economic improvements.
Streets and bus services
The focus on streets and cuts to bus services comes from public opinion, the budget proposal states.
Columbia citizens said in a recent survey that paving streets was their top priority, while expanding public transit ranked eighth of 14 choices, according to the budget proposal.
Under the proposal, funding for street paving and maintenance would increase by $585,000. Several infrastructure improvements to Stadium Boulevard and Interstate 70 are proposed, at a cost of $7.3 million.
Bus services would be reduced, but riders would be asked to pay more to reach a "positive cash balance" by the end of fiscal year 2012. Specifically:
- Fare increases would occur for semester passes, full and half fares, and paratransit.
- The eligibility for half fares would be reduced to that which is federally mandated.
- Thursday through Saturday evening service would be eliminated.
- Saturday service would be reduced by one trip. Miles would be dropped from the 209 black route, 104SE route and the 207 West Gold Route.
Pay raises and general fund
Matthes proposed a 25 cent per hour pay raise for all city employees. It would be their first raise in two years. That would cost the city $1 million, with half coming from the general fund.
Matthes said in the proposal that the general fund "represents our greatest financial pain." In fiscal year 2012, the general fund is projected to take in $75.4 million and spend $77.7 million — leaving a $2.3 million deficit.
Matthes proposed to close the gap between revenues and expenses by about $600,000.
The proposal intends to eliminate the deficit by fiscal year 2014.