The Manchester Board of Aldermen introduced the city’s budget for fiscal year 2021 at its regular meeting on Nov. 16. City officials also met for two public budget meetings over video conference on Oct. 27 and 29; the final budget is expected to be approved at the board’s Dec. 7 meeting.
The 2020 ending fund balance is expected to be about $21.8 million with projected 2021 revenues of $21,447,805 and projected expenditures of $26,179,118, which is a shortfall of just over $4.731 million.
Not included in the budget is the more than $1.2 million in CARES Act funding from St. Louis County that the city is expected to receive in 2020. Receipt of those funds would increase the general fund surplus and be included in the $21.8 million ending fund balance.
The majority of the balance of budget shortfall will be recouped through the sale of $7 million in Proposition S bonds in 2020 for street and concrete work scheduled for 2021, which amounts to $3.39 million.
The city is projecting a general fund surplus of $1.4 million for fiscal year 2020, which includes the $1.2 million in CARES funds. The general fund’s 2021 budgeted revenues of $9.9 million is largely made up of retail sales tax and gross receipt utility tax revenue. The balance of general fund revenues comes from intergovernmental revenues, licenses and permits, fines and court costs, investment earnings, and charges for aquatic and parks programming.
With personnel costs accounting for about 65% of the general fund budget, staffing levels will be maintained, except for the Manchester Police Department, which will phase in the filling of three officer vacancies. A 2.5% merit-based salary increase is planned for all full-time employees, except for the police department. A step plan, implemented in 2020 for the police department, details step raises for new employees and existing officers as they move into new positions and responsibilities.
Employee benefits, such as health, dental and life, will be maintained for 2021. Health insurance was quoted at an 11.7% increase; however, the city was able to decrease that amount by moving ancillary lines of coverage to Anthem. The city also will move its dental, vision and long-term disability insurance to take advantage of better rates. Additionally, it will lower its health insurance premiums by 3%. All ancillary premiums are lower than the amount the city currently is paying; those rates are locked in for two years.
In the April 2020 election, Manchester residents approved an increased cost for participation in the Sewer Lateral Fund program. The fee for residents increased from $28 to $50 annually, which is included on each resident’s county property tax bill. The increased fee will bump available funds up by $160,000 annually. The beginning balance of the sewer lateral program for 2021 is approximately $205,000.
The Parks, Recreation and Arts Department accounts for 12% of expenditures budgeted for 2021. Maintenance and upgrades to the aquatic center will include water slide restorations, new deck equipment, concession and front desk improvements. New to the center will be a rock-climbing wall, at a cost of $24,000. Repairs and site improvements were budgeted for 2019, moved into 2020 and now planned for 2021. In total, the aquatics center will receive $160,505 in repairs, improvements and upgrades.
City-owned parks also will see improvements, including the addition of drinking fountains ($17,200); sports-related courts and fields, such as disc golf expansion ($6,580) and exercise equipment ($18,000).
Accounting for over 50% of the proposed budget is the Seibert Park bridge/retaining wall replacement, anticipated to cost the city $350,000. While the city has added this project into the budget, careful consideration and various options will be proposed prior to pursuing this project. With other expenses, including the bridge and the replacement of a bucket truck at a cost of $120,000, the capital expenses for the parks department are budgeted for $609,680.
Other major capital projects for the city include:
- Dougherty Ferry Road reconstruction ($565,000)
- Street and sidewalk replacement and repair ($375,000)
- A Manchester Road pedestrian project ($125,000)
- City hall exterior/balcony improvements ($155,000)
- Purchase of a medium-duty truck ($75,000)
Going into 2021, the $0.037 residential real estate, $0.037 commercial real estate and $0.050 for personal property taxes per $100 of assessed valuation will continue. This is a voluntary reduction of $0.236 (from $0.273 in 2020) for residential real estate, $0.303 (from $0.340 in 2020) for commercial real estate, and $0.335 (from $0.340 in 2020) personal property taxes per $100 of assessed valuation. This represents additional revenue to the city for approximately $1.1 million if the tax were levied as allowed by statute.
For a complete look at the FY 2021 Manchester budget, visit manchestermo.gov.