A proposed fiscal year 2020 budget will be on the agenda of the Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen’s agenda for the Thursday, September 12, meeting.

Just what budget that would be was the subject of some contention in a 90-minute budget work session — the board’s 10th of the spring and summer — last Thursday night.

Ward 4 Alderman Bryant Wolfin and Ward 3 Alderman Mike Raney had submitted their own proposed budget with $82,600 in cuts from the original proposed budget, resulting in $2,176,538 in expenditures.

This included cuts of about $23,000 from the Welcome Center, $15,000 from the parks budget, $12,300 from community development, $14,000 from legislative, $4,600 from administrative, and $7,600 from the police department.

At an August 26 work session, several department heads had provided their own cuts at the board’s direction.

Tourism director Sandra Cabot had cut her original request from $247,440, which would have been an increase of just over $1,000, to $236,000. Wolfin’s budget slashed it further, to $224,440.

Word had spread of the “anti-tourism” sentiment, as some called it, and several tourism supporters showed up to voice support for the funding of tourism. (See related story.)

The budget debate has gone on since the spring, when Proposition P passed, increasing real estate and personal property taxes to help the police department increase salaries.

Both Randy Ruzicka, the former Ward 4 alderman who did not run for re-election in April, and Wolfin, his successor, have since pointed to tourism’s budget as being the most fertile ground to cut money, perhaps making a repeal of Proposition P possible at some point.

The debate over this, and whether budgets need to balance at initial adoption, has raged since.

Wolfin and others refused to go along with a budget that was some $200,000 in the red on paper, despite the city’s track record of coming in under each department’s “worst-case scenario” budget requests.

The debate has been acrimonious at times, with tourism at times put on the chopping block and moves such as a drastic reduction of employee benefits discussed.

Frustration has been expressed on both sides, as the process has dragged on.

“We’ve had several work sessions,” Mayor Paul Hassler said, in opening the work session,  “and we haven’t decided anything.”

See complete story in the September 11 edition of the Herald.