Capping budget study and preparation efforts that began last summer, the Ballwin Board of Aldermen has unanimously approved the city’s 2018 spending plan.
Action came at the board’s Dec. 11 meeting, the final session scheduled this year.
The budget projects total 2018 revenues of $26.28 million, an 18.2-percent increase from this year’s updated number of $22.23 million, and expenditures of $29.04 million, a 26.6-percent rise from 2017’s revised outlays of $22.94 million.
Much of the higher revenue and spending is accounted for in the capital fund where the city will receive federal or county reimbursements for major outlays involved in a number of 2018 projects.
Ballwin also plans to start construction on a new city administration building next year and has been setting aside funds from this and earlier years’ budget savings to help pay for the facility.The new building’s overall price tag will be higher than the earlier-estimated $3.52 million due to a board decision to add another 1,964 square feet to the structure to accommodate a combined municipal courtroom and board meeting room.
For the first time in recent memory, Ballwin Mayor Tim Pogue had to cast a deciding vote on the issue after a motion to approve the expansion deadlocked at 4-4.
Alderman Frank Fleming [Ward 3] was joined by aldermen Mike Finley [Ward 1], Kevin Roach [Ward 2] and Jim Leahy [Ward 3] in opposing the addition. Fleming noted that the expansion issue had come up at the last minute and seemed to be “a little rushed and forced.” He said he wasn’t sure he could see the public benefiting from the added expense.
Alderman Mark Stallmann [Ward 2] argued that the extra space eventually will be needed as the city grows and that it will be more economical and less disruptive to add it now rather than later. Also supporting Stallmann’s motion were aldermen Jim Terbrock [Ward 1], and Ray Kerlagon and Ross Bullington [both of Ward 4].
Pogue said after the meeting he couldn’t remember the last time the mayor had to vote to break a tie.
The overall budget document is 176 pages long and includes numbers and other details covering this year’s and next year’s revenues and expenditures broken down by department and specific projects, background narrative on the spending plan covering both this year and 2018, and employee counts by department. Information about the city and its government, current and long-term debt obligations, municipal facilities, city maps and demographics, miscellaneous statistics, a list of acronyms and a budget glossary also are provided.
The entire document is available online at ballwin.mo.us.
Other budget highlights include:
- Improved pension benefits from the statewide Local Government Employees Retirement System [LAGERS], which city employees have agreed to help pay for through payroll deductions. Although aldermen had agreed to the pension program change earlier, an ordinance formalizing participation in the new plan received board approval at the Dec. 11 meeting.
- A major priority on street maintenance and improvements. While allocating more funds for street projects, Ballwin also will be using more in-house resources, including recently purchased equipment, to boost overall productivity.
- Continued reliance on sales taxes as the major source of city revenues. The new half-cent countywide sales tax dedicated for public safety that took effect Oct. 1 is expected to add $1.4 million to city revenues next year. All of that will be used for public safety or kept in reserve and assigned for that purpose in the future. However, current year sales tax collections from existing tax sources are lagging behind 2016 by 5.3 percent.
As Ballwin aldermen prepared to act on next year’s budget, they and city administration officials received a pat on the back from a resident and pickleball devotee Tom Ratzki, who lauded the city for providing expanded facilities to meet the sport’s growing popularity.
In addition to allocating court time at The Pointe at Ballwin Commons, the city also has marked an outdoor tennis court and provided portable nets for pickleball players at the Holloway Road facility adjacent to the North Pointe Aquatic Center.