Council Approves FY15 Budget
June 7, 2014
By Mallory Ragan
The city council approved the budget for the fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1. After reviewing the proposed budget with city staff, the council voted to approve the budget with one vote against from Councilmember Bob Johnson.
Steve Arbo, city manager, gave the budget presentation to the council. The theme was one of making as many cuts as possible without drastically altering the level of service provided to the city’s residents. Even so, the city is likely facing a deficit of $1.5 million.
The total budgeted spending is $183,352,682, down from fiscal year 2014’s total budget of $200,371,078.
The budget came to the council with two recommendations from the budget committee: The $140,000 first allocated for the community marketing program was reduced to $126,000. The remaining $14,000 was reassigned to the chamber of commerce and Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street. The second change was to the performance-based merit adjustment for all city employees: Originally written into the budget at 2%, the final version allows for a 1% adjustment.
“We need to give [city staff] a message that they’re valued; they’re important,” Arbo said, when asked why that adjustment wasn’t cut completely. In addition, retention saves the city money: It costs approximately $16,000 to equip and train a new police officer. For a firefighter, that number increases to $40,000.
The marketing spend was still more than Councilmember Bob Johnson was comfortable with. Citing a recent ranking of Missouri’s most exciting cities by Movoto Real Estate—in which Lee’s Summit was ranked 64th out of 77—Johnson wondered what achievements were being made with the program.
“You know I’m not real excited about this,” he said, alluding to his ongoing concerns about the efficacy of funding a marketing campaign for the city, “but when I saw this I thought ‘What have we been doing?’”
Mayor Randy Rhoads stopped the line of questioning and asked Arbo to move things along.
Johnson continued later: “I’m still a little alarmed by the proposed $1.5 million deficit.”
Councilmember Rob Binney thanked Johnson, the budget committee’s chair, for his leadership and his attention to detail throughout the process, which began in August, before making the motion to approve the budget.