The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 23, 2013

Carthage budget review under way

By Susan Redden
news@joplinglobe.com

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Higher health insurance and pension costs will take the place of raises for Carthage workers under a city budget proposed for the fiscal year starting July 1.

“It does not include any pay raises, cost-of-living increase or step increases, because of increases in other personnel costs,” Tom Short, city administrator, told members of the City Council’s Budget Ways and Means Committee on Monday.

The meeting, which was held to hear requests for city funds from outside agencies, was the first in a series of budget sessions by the panel. The committee at 6 p.m. today will begin review of the proposed budget, including the general fund and other operations. Another session is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, with final committee action on the spending plan set for May 13. City Council action on the budget will come in June.

Short told committee members that the city is predicting a small increase in total revenues next fiscal year. But those are expected to be offset by higher operating costs, he said, particularly in personnel. Officials are predicting a 13 percent increase in group health insurance costs, a 15 percent increase in workers’ compensation insurance rates, a 10 percent increase in city contributions to the police and fire pension program, and a 12 percent increase in pension costs for other general city workers.

Officials hope to keep city contributions to the health insurance plan at the same level, Short said.

Also on Monday, committee members heard from representatives of some of the organizations seeking funding in the budget. Members of the Carthage Library Board outlined a request for more than $127,000 in city funds for operating and materials costs, plus $64,000 to reverse limitations in operating hours because of a funding shortage. The Carthage Chamber of Commerce, which provides economic development services for the city, requested nearly $120,000, to include funding for membership in the Joplin Regional Prosperity Initiative. The Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau requested $89,000, and the Carthage Humane Society asked for $35,000.

Committee members listened to the requests and asked questions, but made no decisions during the session.



Other requests

THE CARTHAGE OVER-60 CENTER is seeking $22,000 in funding for its building, which is owned by the city. Requests of $2,000 each were advanced by Carthage Youth Baseball, Carthage Youth Softball and the American Legion baseball teams.