Aldermen approve city’s $3.7 million operating budget

Dave Marner

On a 3-1 vote, Owensville aldermen on Monday approved a $3.7 million operating budget for fiscal year 2018-19 which begins July 1.

The spending plan for all departments lists anticipated expenditures of $3,789,518.45 and expected revenues of $3,823,094 which will result in a surplus reserve fund balance of $33,575.55 by next June 30. 

Ward 1 Alderman Karl Buck, who previously announced plans to resign his seat mid-term but stayed on until Monday to help with budget preparations, voted against approving the final version citing concerns with another projected deficit in the golf course fund.

Although expenses and revenues are not expected to balance in the golf fund, the park’s overall revenue-to-expense projection is anticipated to leave an $8,569.71 surplus reserve balance at the end of the fiscal year, according to figures provided by the city.

Revenue for all park accounts is listed at $507,741 with expenditures projected at $499,171.29. The park’s general operations fund shows anticipated revenue of $326,451 with expenditures planned of $228,465.29. The pool is expected to generate $137,440 in revenue and operate on expenses totalling $175,385.50. The golf account shows anticipated revenue of $43,850 with expenditures of $95,320.50.

Buck began what turned into a 24-minute long public hearing about the proposed budget saying he didn’t feel golf participation numbers warranted the expense. As a citizen, he also said he voted against the bond issue for developing the new water park facility.

Buck told the group of about 20 people in attendance he had never received an accounting from the Park Board for how many people actually used the golf course.

In previous discussions in budget planning sessions where he posed the same question, Buck was told to number was not available since memberships are sold and the numbers of rounds played was not tracked since membership players may golf 9, 18, 27, or 36 holes a day. 

Jerry Lairmore, Southern District Commissioner for Gasconade County and a rural Owensville resident, asked if there was a “lack of use” of golf and pool facilities in Owensville. “It’s close to a hundred-thousand in the negative,” said Lairmore.

Larry Tayloe, who joined the Park Board in 2018 and is an avid golfer, noted maintaining a golf course is an expense. He has suggested, and did so again on Monday, that the city review how accounting for personal property and real estate, and sales tax, receipts are distributed with more funding allocated to the golf course.

Tayloe noted the park system had a surplus reserve of $156,000. 

Manny Medeiros, a member of the Park Board, told the group “the water park doesn’t make money. It’s an expense. It’s a service. You have to look at the total picture. It’s a total package.”

On the topic of the water park and golf course, he said,  “It’s part of your expenses.”

Buck noted he was not against having a golf course, adding he thought it was a benefit to property values — even noting his property abuts the golf course.

“I feel the spending is irresponsible,” said Buck. “You need to get spending in line with usage.”

Tayloe said he knows someone who can review operations and help raise funds for golf operations. Kevin McFadden, who was sworn in later in the meeting to replace Buck whose resignation was accepted after the budget was approved, suggested Tayloe contact his “guy” and “eliminate Karl’s objection. Call that gentleman.”

McFadden added there are few businesses which can survive deficit spending very long.

 Lairmore said he didn’t intend to “push the hot button.” He agreed with the comments made but added, “I am not against the pool or golf course. I am 100 percent behind the park. I love the pool and I like the golf course.”

Mayor John Kamler noted the park system has gone in the red $400,000 over the past 10 years to balance the golf budget.

“The Park Board worked very hard this year to get things on track,” said Kamler. “We’re getting there. We’ll get there.”

Rob Borgmann, president of the board who represents the second ward, was silent during the discussion. He had previously voted against approving two prior city budgets based on his opposition to the park system’s budget.

Last year, approval was delayed until the last day of the month and came during a special meeting.

Cathy Lahmeyer, who represents the first ward, noted, “We’ve had adequate time to study it and prepare for it and digest it.”

This year, planning for the budget began earlier as City Administrator Nathan Schauf has planned a paternity leave this month in advance of his first-born child’s anticipated arrival this month. 

“I appreciate everyone’s hard work so Nathan can enjoy his first child,” said Kamler. “I appreciate all the hard work by the department heads and all the Park Board’s input. Everyone did a great job.”

To open the public hearing, Kamler noted the city’s finances were in good shape. The city has two outstanding infrastructure bond issues which will be paid off in 2023 plus the water park bond issue.

“We have to be one of the few cities our size in the financial shape we’re in,” he told the audience. “We’ve done great work. We don’t always agree but we agree to disagree. We’re doing a great job for the citizens.”

(Editor’s note: The reporter for this story previously served for 14 years as president of the Owensville Park Board. He was not reappointed on Monday).