City budget work on track

Ray Scherer

 

With the coronavirus as an unanticipated but necessary backdrop, Hermann city leaders have continued working recently to authorize a budget for the new fiscal year that starts in July.

 

Mayor Dr. Bob Koerber told the Advertiser-Courier that the Hermann Board of Aldermen on May 18 unanimously approved a first reading of the 2020-'21 budget, which features slightly more than $13.7 million in requested spending, reflecting a $592,000 increase from last year's requested amount. A second reading, and thereby approval, was on the board's Tuesday night agenda.

 

"This budget is audited every year, and is published," Koerber said.

 

The mayor said Hermann's new budget was fashioned conservatively and based on projections, given the challenges posed by the pandemic.

 

"We didn't assume we would have growth," he said, with freezes on capital spending and personnel included among portions that were cut. Employee pay raises will be on hold for 90 days, he added. A 3 percent increase in the payroll was eliminated.

 

In his budget summary, City Administrator Mark Wallace noted the difficulties the virus has imposed on charting a path for Hermann's finances.

 

"This year presents a special challenge because of the covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of the economy going forward," he wrote.

 

Wallace added that City Clerk Patricia Heaney has spent considerable time investigating the virus's impact and potential loss of tax revenue.

 

"She has put forward this budget based on the best available information at the time it was developed," he said.

 

Next fiscal year's major project stemming from the 7/8-cent sales tax for street improvements is West 18th Street. The water department and street department have cooperated in replacing old cast iron, undersized water mains, with in-house work allowing the water line replacement program to stay ahead of street paving projects.

 

The budget also carries plans to upgrade existing recreational vehicle spots for a conversion to full hook-up, and for an awning area adjacent to the concession stand at the ballpark.