The seriousness of the city of St. Mary’s financial situation came to the fore during last Thursday’s Board of Aldermen meeting.
The board eventually approved liquidating two certificates of deposit (CDs) in order to meet its upcoming obligations, including this month’s payroll.
The board has been conducting work sessions in recent weeks to review the budget situation, and in fact had its third work session on the topic already scheduled for Thursday following the regular meeting.
Other revenue-related topics such as moving the municipal court to the Ste. Genevieve County Associate Circuit Court and continuation of the city’s police department also were on the agenda last week.
But one of the first topics was the immediate budget problem, explained by city clerk David Woods.
“As of today, in my QuickBooks accounting system, the general [fund] is in the negative over $11,000, water is in the negative over $8,000, sewer is in the negative over $2,000,” he said. “This month already, I’ve had to transfer $2,100 from general into water and $3,100 from general into sewer.
“I’ve depleted cemetery, water meter deposit, police training. There’s nowhere else to take money from.
“We’ve also got repairs coming up. The tractor is going to cost $4,300, a copier is $1,300. The truck needs to be repaired. The tornado siren needs to be repaired. So, we can’t make payroll next week much less these upcoming expenses.”
Woods identified two of the city’s 10 CDs for liquidation to cover upcoming expenses. He recommended cashing out a general fund CD with a balance of $1,768 and a sewer grinder CD with a balance of $10,608. He said that would get the city through this month, but he said it was likely more CDs would have to be cashed out in the coming months.
The city’s total CD balance is $186,871, but Woods said one of the sewer grinder CDs with a balance of $106,161 could not be touched since it was pledged to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in exchange for a reduced monthly loan payment.
“I hate to start messing with the CDs. When we do that, that’s not good at all,” Mayor Gloria Bader said. “We need to do something to get this back in the black, and we need to do it now. Because otherwise it’s going to be really be bad.”
Later in the night, Woods said, “If we don’t cash these CDs, I’m going to have a bunch of checks bouncing next week and I won’t be able to make payroll.”
He said cashing the CDs would buy the city roughly six weeks of time before having to look at cashing out more or finding more revenue.
See complete story in the March 20 edition of the Herald.