At least two City Council work sessions will be held this week on the proposed 2021 budget, and issues and options to be decided regarding funding.

Budget discussions are scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday. Those could stretch into a third day if needed, but as of Monday afternoon no agenda had been posted for a Thursday session.

A line-item review of budget, which projects revenue at $123 million and expenditures at $110 million, is set for Tuesday.

City Manager Nick Edwards said in the written budget introduction that the city's financial condition is signaled by the strength of its reserve fund balances and the management of expenditures so that there have not been spending deficits, crediting council leadership and that of the city's finance director, Leslie Haase.

"The city has done an excellent job in controlling expenditures and the commitments of resources into the future. The city has not increased expenditures without first identifying how to pay for those expenditures," Edwards wrote, citing a list of actions such as closing the Joplin Recovery TIF district earlier this year.

"While the city is in a position of strength with a positive reserve balance and controlled expenditures, the city is threatened by a lack of revenue. The city's revenue stream has not been able to keep pace with the community's growth and costs for service delivery and maintenance," Edwards wrote. "Over time this has led to an erosion of capacity and ability to effectively deliver service and leaves no ability to address to future needs."

Because of uncertainty regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic could affect sales tax revenue, a forecast of 1.5% growth was scaled back to a potential decrease of 2% in receipts from this year.

Expenditures from the general fund, which pays personnel and covers operations costs for city offices, are scheduled to be about $1 million less than last year. That includes a $1.1 million allocation to raise the city's pay scale by 9% plus provide annual step increases to pay of 2% to 2.5%. The 9% pay increase still needs formal approval by the council, though the panel recently consented to it informally.

At a work session on Wednesday, the council will hear several requests. One will be the annual contract funding for economic development work by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. This year's request is $195,000, a $5,000 decrease from the current year. The city also is asked to pay a $52,000 participation cost in the MoKan Partnership.

The council also will consider a request to make the Joplin Historical and Mineral Museum part of city operations by moving it into the Joplin Parks and Recreation Department.

City staff will ask that $450,000 to design a new fire station be included in the budget. It would be located on the east side of the city and would be the city's seventh fire station, the last one to be built under provisions of the half-cent public safety sales tax.

Last year's no-frills budget forecast revenue at about $115.6 million and spending at slightly more than $105 million.

Time and place

Budget work sessions are scheduled at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday on the fifth floor of City Hall, 602 S. Main St.