Johnston City funds may run out by December - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Johnston City funds may run out by December


Johnston City city leaders say previous city councils "kicked the can down the road" to deal with the city's growing budget problem later. Now they say the city's can has hit a financial road block.

"As long as I've watched Johnston City politics, in the spring we always end up in trouble," said Johnston City Finance Commissioner Keith Boyd. "Borrow until we get the property taxes and ever things levels out for a few months and struggle again.

City leaders say the city's always borrowed money to get out of the hole.

"The city has lived about 40% beyond its means for three to three-and-a-half years," said Johnston City Mayor Jim Mitchell.

But not anymore. Banks don't want to loan Johnston City any more money. The money they do have will run out by the end of 2011.

"December is D-Day," said Boyd.

That's four full months before the city's fiscal year ends in April, and six months before the next round of property tax payments roll in.

"Cemetery, city hall, fire, police and street department that's part of the general fund that we're concerned about."

Come December, city leaders aren't sure how they'll pay the already bare-bones staff of city workers.

"One of the employees the other day said when you look to hire somebody, look at this guy," said Mayor Mitchell. "I said we're not looking to hire anyone. We're trying to keep the people we've got employed."

Right now, city leaders don't have a solution. They say the so-called "Magic City of Little Egypt" can't just wave a wand to fix the fiscal mess.

"We're not the federal government, we can't just print money, we can't throw money at this and continue on, we have to do everything we can to cut expenses and generate new revenue," said Boyd.

The city's looking to sell off some vacant lots and surplus equipment to make a few bucks to get by. In addition, city leaders hope new taxes put in place might generate some new revenue.

The mayor is also currently working to recruit new businesses into the area to pump up the tax base and encouraging folks to shop local so their sales tax dollars go to help their town through tough times.

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