Ste. Gen. Aldermen’s Discussion Of Reserve Fund Led To Sharp Exchanges In Budget Work Session

The city of Ste. Genevieve’s elected officials earlier this month discussed how much of a reserve fund the city should maintain and how much it should spend.

Intense discussion took place during the June 13 Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen budget work session.

During the session, some sharp exchanges were shared by Mayor Paul Hassler and Ward 4 Alderman Bryant Wolfin.

City administrator Martin Toma reported that Government Financial Officers Association recommends cities have at least 16.7 percent of the annual budget held in reserve.

Toma also said the city has a general fund budget of about $1,877,000 and a reserve fund of about  $1,500,000.

Toma said Ste. Genevieve has a reserve percentage higher than many other cities to which he compared it.

“That’s definitely a good thing,” Wolfin said. “But, at what point do we think we have too much, and then we’re just taking taxpayer dollar for nothing? We need to either start spending or trying to give back. … We have this extra revenue apparently going into the reserve fund, but then we’re going to go tax the taxpayers in order to increase our funds to pay for salaries.”

Wolfin has been a critic of Proposition P, a measure passed by city voters in April to increase property taxes in order to increase police department salaries.

“I don’t really understand,” Wolfin said. “If we had this much of an increase [in reserve funds], compared to everybody else, why did we go out there and do that? It  doesn’t seem like it was necessary if we’re bringing in this much extra revenue.”

“We have to sustain that,” Hassler said. “It’s not going happen every year.”

“It can be sustained,” Wolfin said.

“That would run out if you tried to do that, Bryant,” Hassler replied.

“It seems to me like there’s plenty there, as far as what it could have been two years ago, going into these reserves,” Wolfin said.

Hassler wants to put the Proposition P vote behind the board.

“I understand your concerns,” Hassler said, “but that’s a done deal. We’re moving forward with that.”

“It may be,” Wolfin replied, “but there’s no reason to sit here and pretend that it can’t be repealed, if we can find money.”

Hassler seemed nonplussed that Wolfin continued to argue against Proposition P nearly three months after it was passed.

“I can’t understand why you even said that,” Hassler said.

“I’ve had several people come to me,” Wolfin said. “Has it been a majority of our constituents? No. But I’ve had several constituents come to me who are very upset about it, Paul. We had a lady [Karen Stuppy] come in here and chew us out over it.

“To not ask questions about it, at least, is naive. I mean, nobody here has to agree with me; that’s fine, but at least let me bring it up.”

See complete story in the June 26 edition of the Herald.

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