Holding its third budget work session in two months, the Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen reached some conclusions last Thursday evening.
The city had experimented with a priority-based budgeting approach rather than the traditional incremental approach. It also had discussed the merits of tourism, employee health insurance and the city’s economic development.
Now the more traditional approach of department heads bringing their proposed budgets to the board will begin.
It was also agreed that the city’s $1.5 million reserve fund is more than sufficient and that there is no urgent need to trim the city budget at this time.
Each department head submitted a tentative budget to the board prior to the session with the department priorities listed.
“Some members of the board have expressed to me a desire to continue this process,” city administrator Martin Toma said. “Some of you have expressed a desire to get on with the process of making decisions about the budget. I’m at your service; we will do whatever you want to do.”
“Starting last fall,” Ward 2 Alderman Bob Donovan said, “I think there was five current members of the board on then that we said we’d like to do it a little differently.”
“I didn’t know what you meant, so I kind of picked this process,” Toma said. “I guess it isn’t exactly what your expectations were.”
“It isn’t what I thought, and I want to get on with regular budget stuff,” Ward 3 Alderman Jimmie Jones said.
“To be honest with you, I’m trying to understand — and I understand being frugal and everything else — but at this point with the city, we’re trying to fix something that’s not broken,” Mayor Paul Hassler said. “I’ve got to ask a question: Why? … I’m just having a hard time. What’s broken here with the budget? What do we want to do here? What is our goal here? Is our goal to save money? Is our goal to allocate more money so we can fix streets? What is our goal here?”
Hassler expressed frustration with the drawn-out process, which has included debate over whether the city should stop funding tourism and whether employee benefit packages should be severely scaled back.
See complete story in the June 19 edition of the Herald.