City Council approves budget for 2013 fiscal year

Monday, September 17, 2012 | 10:47 p.m. CDT; updated 8:04 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 18, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council passed a $409.5 million budget for the 2013 fiscal year Monday night. City Manager Mike Matthes said 2013 will be “a watershed year in many ways.”

The budget goes into effect on Oct. 1. While the new budget cuts Columbia's deficit, there is still work to be done a year from now on additional cuts.

"We were able to close the gap between revenue and expenses in the General Fund by $1 million," Matthes said. "That still leaves $1.3 million to find in the next budget."

Before the budget was passed, Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl proposed an amendment that moved $3,000 from the General Fund to create a fund for Neighborhood Watch. The amendment passed along with the rest of the budget. Kespohl went to a Neighborhood Watch meeting and saw a need for funding, he said.

Other significant items in the budget include:

  • Utility increase: A 15 percent rate increase for sewer utility customers, a 5 percent rate increase for water utility customers and a 1.5 percent rate increase for electric utility customers. The council estimates the effect of these rates will increase customers’ utility bills by an average of $5.82 per month.
  • Building permit increases: An increase in fees for commercial and residential building permits that is expected to generate $500,000 in new revenue per year. It is the first such increase since 1996. The fee for a 2,000-square-foot house with a 480-square-foot garage would increase to $685 from $302.
  • Parking rate increases: An increase in the cost of parking permits for downtown parking facilities. The rates increased by $5 for monthly permits, $15 for quarterly permits and $55 for yearly permits. The fee increases will take effect Oct. 1. The council estimates the parking permit increase will generate $87,500 in revenue. Part of the revenue will be used to create a maintenance assistant position.
  • Pension reductions: A decrease in the city’s subsidization of police and fire pension plans, a plan negotiated with police and firefighters in the city. The reductions are estimated to primarily affect workers hired after Oct. 1. The council estimates the reduction will save $43 million in the next 20 years. Matthes said that the reduction in pensions for police and fire takes "$50 million in liability off the table" for the city.

The council will meet again Oct. 1.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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David Sautner September 18, 2012 | 9:18 a.m.

City Manager Mike Matthes said 2013 will be “a watershed year in many ways.”
A watershed for who?

(Report Comment)
Hank Koebler September 18, 2012 | 7:50 p.m.

Mr. Sautner,

Thank you for commenting on the article. My name's Hank Koebler and I'm the reporter that wrote the story. In the context of his comments, Matthes seemed to mean it was a watershed year for the council - and by extension, the whole city - because a fix to the deficit needed to be reached.

Hank Koebler, IV

(Report Comment)

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