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Finances doing fine, Waynesville says

WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (Dec. 19, 2008) — Councilwoman Luge Hardman says Waynesville’s city finances are tracking well with expenses in a $10.8 million annual budget.

“I know the public is very concerned about money right now,” said Hardman, who chairs the city’s finance committee, at Thursday night’s city council meeting.

“There’s a lot of concern about budgets with the county and the problems that they’re having and I would just like to tell the public and the citizens of Waynesville that our budget is doing very well. We are, I think, setting very well for the next year,” Hardman said.

Unlike Pulaski County and some cities in the county, Waynesville doesn’t run on a January to December calendar year so it’s only about halfway through the fiscal year.

“We are 56.5 percent on expenses and 56.4 percent on revenue, so that’s pretty tight tracking,” Hardman said. The one-tenth percent should be covered by grants the city will receive later in the year based on reports she’s received from City Administrator Bruce Harrill, she said.

The city has close to a $900,000 reserve in savings and runs a debt service rate of only 13 to 14 percent, Hardman said.

“That would include our natural gas project, our MAMU (Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities) projects, the refinancing of our TIF (tax increment financing) bonds, what we call our COPS program, as well as several trucks, plows, cars tractors,” Hardman said. “To run 13 percent, I’m told by accountants, is a very good percentage and I think the city is setting very well for the coming year.”

Some of that debt may even get paid off early.

“I might remind the city council that last budget year we paid off several items ahead of time because we did have a surplus and in fact we hope to do that again this year, also,” Hardman said.

Responding to questions from Councilwoman Diana Stanford, City Administrator Bruce Harrill said about $100,000 of the $900,000 in the city’s reserve funds consists of restricted funds that can only be used for specified projects, but a full printout wasn’t immediately available. Stanford said she’d like to see that report.

Hardman said finance committee members recommended staying with United Health Care, which is the city’s current insurance provider, though they’re looking at some different options with deductibles.

Efforts are also being made to add direct deposit of paychecks for the city along with offering a tuition reimbursement benefit to city employees attending Ozarks Technical College, she said.

In a separate report later in the evening in her capacity as chairwoman of the Waynesville Economic Development Committee, Hardman said she and Councilwoman Twyla Cordry are trying to get the necessary data prepared to apply for state development grants such as the Missouri Community Betterment Program, which is similar to an older program known as MoCAP or Missouri Community Assessment Program.

“We did a lot of the paperwork for MoCAP, but it never got turned in, never got completed. Those type of programs, even though they are a lot of work, they really pay dividends,” Hardman said. “For example, for three years we have put in to be a DREAM (Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri) community. If we had been a MoCAP community, that would have given us more points. We would maybe have had a better opportunity.”

Hardman said even though Missouri’s governor will soon change, the DREAM program that had been promoted by current Gov. Matt Blunt will be continued by incoming Gov. Jay Nixon.

Hardman said she’s also working with Councilman Alan Clark to prepare an economic development plan for thecity.

In other business:

• Councilman Alan Clark reported that the Waynesville Planning and Zoning Commission is working with city staff members to review the city’s land use regulations to identify items that may be too strict or too permissive. Other items being considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission, Clark said, include implementing the city’s new comprehensive plan in ways that will allow mixed-use zoning to develop new areas as well as revitalize older areas such as downtown Waynesville.

“Nathan Carmon, as the building inspector, is innately familiar with a lot of the things that are going on out there with the builders and developers; he sees it firsthand,” Clark said. “We’re going to deliberately go through our regulations line item by line item, chapter by chapter, without trying to get them all at done at one time. I hazard to say the majority of the regulations are OK, we just need to do some updating of the current regulations.”

• Councilwoman Twyla Cordry, who chairs the city’s communication committee, thanked the city’s webmaster, John Morrissey, for designing the city’s website and posting city council and city committee minutes, and also thanked Councilman Ed Conley for taking the photographs that appear on the city website. The city’s website is located at www.waynesvillemo.org.

• Councilmen unanimously accepted a recommendation from Mayor Cliff Hammock to Martin Helmer to the Nuisance Abatement Board.

• Mayor Cliff Hammock honored local resident Benny Doolin for his role in local fundraising and a recent cemetery construction project.

• Waynesville Assistant Police Chief Clarence Liberty introduced Dustin Britzman, a former Pulaski County deputy and Crocker city police officer, as the city’s newest police officer.

• Councilwoman Diana Stanford, who chairs the Waynesville Utility Committee, reported that her committee met with representatives of the Interstate Municipal Gas Agency to consider ways the city’s natural gas bills, and also met with a resident who is upset that his electricity was shut off. Responding to questions from Clark, Harrill said the city disconnected the electricity by mistake.

“We made a good-faith effort to pay for that mistake and the cost of the items grew from our initial discussion,” Harrill said.

• The city faces a substantial increase in its electric rates and possibly other rates, Stanford said, because of increased electrical charges passed on to the city by Sho-Me Power.

“Unfortunately for all of us, it’s going to go up and there’s not much we can do about it, so bear with us,” Stanford said.

• Stanford said efforts will be made to get developers to do more work while building developments before turning property over to the homeowners and infrastructure over to the city so the city’s electric crews will be available to do other work.

• Hardman said the Fort Leonard Wood USO is having a hard time providing treats and food to soldiers and she’s been asked by the Waynesville St. Robert Chamber of Commerce to announce that there’s a need for help.

• Several new businesses have moved into the area or relocated within Waynesville, Hardman said. Those include the new Paradox Studios on the south side of the downtown square, Paradise Deli which has relocated from a building that will soon be demolished onto a building on the north side of the square, and an Edward Jones financial services office run by Andy Offut and a H&R Block tax preparation office, both in the Townfield Plaza.

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