At an almost five-hour meeting at city hall on Thursday, the Lee’s Summit City Council voted to move forward with discussion of the proposed annual budget.
Mayor Bill Baird and five city council members heard the initial proposal for the five-year budget from City Manager Steve Arbo and Assistant City Manager Nick Edwards.
The overall budget would go down, which Arbo attributed to completed capital projects.
The city approached the budget this year with priority-based budgeting, which outlines main concerns before making long-term financial decisions. Among the city’s priorities for the 2019-2023 fiscal year were addressing a declining franchise tax and increased reliance on sales tax, as well as lagging compensation for government employees and expansion requests.
Discussion hit a snag when council member Bob Johnson motioned to amend the proposal to limit the 2019 business and industry fund expenditures to what revenue they would make that year. The business and industry fund’s purpose is primarily to support economic development efforts in the city, and also account for taxes on hotel and motel stays.
“I don’t want to risk anymore general revenue being placed in that fund,” he said, referring to instances in the past where general subsidized funds have been used for expenditures that didn’t meet the public service agreement standards.
Council member Trish Carlyle asked Johnson to clarify if that meant the fund couldn’t use the balance they already have for 2019 expenditures. Johnson said yes.
For the 2019 fiscal year, the city expects the fund’s revenue to be around $508,000, but for their expenditure requests to reach about $556,000. If the amendment to limit the expenditures were put in place, the fund would lose at least $47,000 and Edwards said they couldn’t yet determine which agencies would suffer the consequences.
But Johnson didn’t seem to relent on the matter.
“I have a problem with one entity getting separate publicly funded tax revenues,” he said. “And we’re subsidizing them also.”
Johnson was referring to Downtown Main Street, a non-profit organization.
“They get $60,000 out of this fund and also have a community improvement district available to them,” he said. “So how many times does this entity get public money?”
Eventually, Baird asked that they table discussion on the amendment for a later date, where he and council members could go over the details of this initial budget proposal with Arbo, Edwards and the Budget and Finance Committee.
“We need to all come together on priority-based budgeting,” he said.
Johnson withdrew his motion in agreement with the mayor and the council voted to move the initial budget proposal ordinance to a second reading. The next hearing for approval on the budget will be either June 19 or 21.
The topic of community improvement districts also was raised in Thursday’s meeting when Summit Orchards Development proposed an ordinance creating one to help fund and maintain their mixed-use development. The city council approved the project two years ago.
Christie Development Associates with Summit Orchards and Assistant City Manager Mark Denning presented a plan for the district. The development would be on 17 acres at the northeast and northwest corners of Chipman and Ward roads.
The city council approved the ordinance, which would add a 1 percent tax on all sales within that area for 25 years. It is expected to generate $3.5 million to reimburse the developers for the cost of building internal roads and intersection improvements within the shopping center.