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Ballwin fiscal year 2015 budget wins swift approval

 

With no citizens commenting for or against the spending plan, the public hearing and action on ordinances approving the operating and capital budgets for next year took less than 10 minutes. With all aldermen present, both ordinances passed on 8-0 votes.

The budget calls for total expenditures of $22.2 million in 2015, with revenues projected at nearly $21.7 million. The city plans to use reserves, primarily from its capital fund, to make up for the shortfall.

Ballwin officials are expecting a 1.9 percent increase in sales tax receipts, the city’s largest revenue source. Describing the projected boost as “conservative” in light of higher gains since 2011, the city also anticipates a 2.6 percent gain in public utility taxes and a 2.6 percent increase in revenues from community programs at The Pointe, North Pointe Aquatic Center and golf course.

Little or no change is budgeted in other revenue sources such as the city’s motor fuel tax, the county’s road/bridge tax, and licenses and permits; however, a modest increase in municipal court fines is anticipated.

Based on earlier public meeting discussion, the 2015 budget also calls for a 3 percent merit pay increase pool.

With projected expenditures of $5.93 million, Ballwin’s police department accounts for 29 percent of the budget’s anticipated outlays. Public works adds another $5.26 million, or 26 percent, while parks and recreation expenses are budgeted at $4.66 million, or 23 percent.

Administration expenditures of $3.06 million are 15 percent of the city’s budget while capital improvements account for almost $1.5 million, or 7 percent.

The 2015 spending plan is a hefty document of more than 140 pages. Its content ranges from a review of 2014 to descriptions of the budget process, projections and historical graphs and charts on income sources and overall expenditures as well as more detailed breakdowns of revenues and outlays for individual accounts in each department.

Facts about the city also are presented, including a listing of employee numbers and departmental job classifications, along with names and contact information for administrative personnel, elected officials and leaders of various commissions and committees. In addition, a glossary of financial and other governmental terms appears at the end.

In an effort either to inject an element of levity into the large, fact-filled tome or to describe the challenges city officials face in governing and managing a suburban city of 30,000, the budget document cover features a lioness peering out from a tall stand of savannah grass. The subtitle accompanying the picture declares, “It’s a Jungle Out There.”

Plans call for the budget document to be available at the city’s website, ballwin.mo.us.

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In other business addressed at the Dec. 8 meeting, the board unanimously approved an ordinance designed to bring the city’s regulations on firearms into compliance with state statutes, especially those applying to concealed carry laws.

Action came after City Attorney Robert Jones was asked to draft an ordinance to update the city’s rules and make them compatible with state laws. Jones had previously reported that Ballwin only had three provisions dealing with weapons in general. Two were adopted in 1973, had not been changed since and did not reflect the passage of the concealed carry endorsement law from 2003. He recommended those measures be changed.

He also had earlier noted that the city has inconsistencies with the way concealed firearms and persons who are properly registered to carry them are treated.

At the Dec. 8 meeting, Jones assured aldermen that the proposed ordinance is consistent with state law.

Among other things, it dictates when, where and under what circumstances concealed firearms may or may not be carried.

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