$41.1 million budget proposed for City of Branson

The Branson Board of Aldermen gave initial approval to a $41.1 million budget for the fiscal year 2005 Monday night. The proposed budget is an increase of 3.29 percent over last year. The 2005 budget begins in October of this year. City Administrator Terry Dody said the increase in expenditures is because of additional staff added for the recreation center, a 24.5 percent increase in health insurance and a 6.1 percent increase in workers compensation, casualty and liability.

Dody said the city began using a “program basis” budget that allows flexibility in 1997. “What a program basis does is looks at each program within the city and instead of having to make a 10 percent across-the-board cut, or something like that, you as a council and citizens of this community will be able to look at each program and what the programs cost,” Dody said. “Then you can make a good, solid financial decision on which programs to keep and which ones you can do without.”

The city operates on a pay-as-you-go philosophy. “Since 1997, we’ve worked very hard to take existing revenue and rather that going into debt for capital expenditures we use our existing revenue to pay for those capital expenditures, so we will not acquire unnecessary debt,” Dody said.

Highlights of the budget include:

• The budget provides for $1 million to go toward the city’s recreation center that will open in 2005. There is a total of $4 million in the sinking fund for the recreation complex. Dody said 2005 would make the fourth year the city has put funds aside for the rec center.

• Water and sewer infrastructure improvements will cost approximately $3.2 million.

• The budget provides for $500,000 to be added to the sinking fund for a new police facility. If the budget is approved, the sinking fund will have $2 million.

• A new fire truck will cost approximately $270,000.

• The city’s trails project will get $100,000.

• A fire and police radio systems analysis study is included in the budget. The city will hire a consultant for $50,000 to study “dead spots” that exist in emergency personnel’s radios.

Taxes are projected to bring in $14.7 million while the tourism tax is expected to bring in $10.7 million. Licenses are projected to bring in $1.2 million next year with miscellaneous fees bringing in $7.7 million. The city projects interest from several funds will result in nearly $2 million. Requested operating budget expenditures for 2005 are $20.8 million. Operating expenditures in 2004 totaled $19.8 million.

Tourism tax fund expenditures are projected to be nearly $10.7 million.

Copies of the 2005 city budget will be available at Branson City Hall after it is approved.

Courtesy of Branson Daily Independent

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