Larger than expected budget shortfall means more cuts for city of Cape Girardeau

By Christy Hendricks - email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The faltering economy means a worse than expected budget shortfall for the city of Cape Girardeau to the tune of $661,000.
The city finance director presented nearly $500,000 in proposed budget cuts across the board to city council members Monday night as well as other cost cutting measures.
"Sales tax is down. Sales tax is the catalyst that runs our city," said Mayor Jay Knudtson.
Every city department was asked to cut three percent of their operating budget.  That includes office supplies, reduction of hours for workers and some parks services,
The parks department would close the Central Municipal Pool, Capaha Pool, and Osage Centre a least an hour earlier.
The cuts do not include layoffs of full-time employees.
"We reduced salaries in total about $278,000 but none of those were reductions in people," said John Richbourg, the city finance director. "We did not replace any people who were currently employed.  We we're able to take advantage of openings, reorganizing staff so we could reduce cost."
That leaves about four positions open, including two police officer positions and no salary raises for current employees.
Other cost cutting measures include adding a franchise tax to the companies who provide water, sewer, and trash service, and a separate increase to residents.
"Right now there'd be a five percent sewer fee increase and a five percent water incerase," Richbourg said. "Right now we're at no increase in solid waste fund."
That translates to about a $1.62 increase per month in resident's water and sewer bills. 
With these cuts, Mayor Jay Knudtson guarantees a balanced budget without layoffs, but stresses that could change if the economy doesn't.
"If those cash registers aren't humming, we are going to be faced with some tough decisions and that includes laying off people and cutting back services," Knudtson said. 
If the proposed cuts are approved, it would leave the city with a positive balance of more than $200,000.
There will be a public hearing on the budget the first Monday in June.

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