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Budget surplus disappears with amendments in Platte City

But city administrator says cash balance remains strong

by Mark Vasto
Landmark reporter

Citing budget items that were "inadvertently left out of the budget" and higher than anticipated expenses in various categories, the Platte City Board of Aldermen unanimously voted to amend its approved 2004 budget.

The move impacted 16 funds and will erase the city's projected $117,980 budget surplus, creating a $116,165 deficit instead.

Platte City Administrator Keith Moody said the city's cash balance after the amendments, approximately $3.8 million, remained strong. He explained that budget cycles for the city fluctuate, particularly when bonds were being issued.

"It tends to have a year of big surpluses because we release bonds," Moody said. "That is followed by a couple of years of deficit as we spend the money from those funds.”

The largest adjustment in the budget had already occurred when Platte City amended the amount of general obligation bonds that it planned to issue this year from $1.8 million to $1.5 million. That number was adjusted to meet the county projections for collected transportation tax funds, the fund that is expected to repay the bond.

"If our fund has a deficit, it's because we don't want to be using our reserves for our supplies, personnel or contractual services," Moody said.

In addition to the bond re-issue, Moody told the aldermen that the city had incurred unexpected costs including an added $13,000 to complete 2003 capital improvement projects, $6,000 for legal fees, $6,000 for equipment purchases, $8,245 for maintenance and repairs to the sewer plant, $6,000 for sewer line cleaning, and $3,860 for recycling bins.

In other aldermen activities, the board:
•Agreed to table a proposal authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with MicroComm Digital Control Technology for the installation of a water control system. Alderman Bill Knighton said he personally checked on the equipment MicroComm proposed for the project and pointed out that the proposal called for the city to purchase a Motorola radio system that was due to be discontinued in one month and only supported by the company for one year. The aldermen directed Moody to investigate the proposal further and bring it back to the board at a later date.

•Voted 5-1 to approve a funding statement for the Platte County Park and Recreation Outreach Grant Program. The application would call for a cash match on behalf of the city for $20,000 - nearly 50 percent of the amount the city believes it would need to complete gymnasium floor and window improvements in the Platte City Civic Center.

Alderman Gary Brown was the sole dissenting vote. Brown questioned how the city could afford to pay $20,000 for a gymnasium repair after the city raised taxes and cut city department budgets across the board.

"I admit the gymnasium needs to be fixed," Brown stated. "I do not believe this is the right time to commit to this.”

Mayor Dave Brooks said he thought the city should go after the grant money while the offer was on the table.

"We don't always know if there is going to be a grant," Brooks pointed out.

Alderman Ron Porter said the city could not afford to wait.

"I'm in the construction business," Porter said, "and the longer you let something go, the more it's going to cost to fix.”

According to the project description, the repairs are necessary because the floor had not been maintained since it was vacated by the R-3 school district and the windows were prone to being broken and were not energy efficient.

•Heard a brief update on the proposed Platte City fall festival from Alderman George McClintock. According to McClintock, vendors have been identified and fees have been discussed and generally agreed upon. Energy would be provided at cost by Aquila on the grounds of the Platte County Courthouse. A car cruise and a charity walk/run-a-thon are being proposed. In addition, the city is still discussing ways to entice the estimated 25,000 visitors expected to be in the county for the Harley Davidson plant's open house


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