Florissant Council Approves City Budget; Podleski Only ‘No’ Vote

By Carol Arnett

The Florissant City Council passed the budget for fiscal year 2012 last week.. The city’s fiscal year runs from Dec. 1 through Nov. 30 with only one councilman voting “no.”

Councilman Andrew Podleski was the only council member who voted against the budget.  Saying that he felt he owed his constituents a reason, Podleski read a statement explaining why he would not be voting for the budget. Among other concerns, Podleski said that he and other council members had repeatedly asked for more detailed information at quarterly budget meetings about the long term fiscal health of the city and plans to address decreases in tax revenue while continuing to provide services.

“A major concern is the rapidly dwindling reserve account,” Podleski said. He noted that the city had a reserve of close to $20 million after the sale of the water company in 2002. He said that at the time, the council used $3 million of this for capital improvements and put $10 million in a reserve fund. However, Podleski stated, the reserve was rolled into the General Fund in 2005, allowing the budget to be balanced with the General Fund every year. Because of this, Podleski said, the city’s reserves are back to 2002 totals.

Podleski also criticized the way information is presented to the council. The budget documents presented to the council, he said, are not done in a traditional spreadsheet format. He called the current manner “convoluted,” saying it makes it difficult to compare department to department and track expenses over several years.

Councilman Tim Lee said that he appreciated the more open quarterly meetings that the council has been having with the administration to monitor the budget. “While this isn’t a perfect document, and I don’t support everything in it, it’s a good consensus budget,” he said. He said that the current economy made any budget difficult. Lee thanked the council and the administration for having the quarterly meetings.

Councilwoman Karen McKay also thanked the council for their work throughout the year on the budget. She also said that although she did not agree with every line item, and she also was concerned with depleted reserves, she would be voting for the budget. She said she felt the majority of the council was aware of the problem of the reserves and would continue to monitor the situation.

In other matters, the council:

• Held a public hearing regarding a request by Dollar General to move a store into the property at 13041 New Halls Ferry Road.

•  Passed several bills regarding the budget, including one regarding the pay plan and one authorizing the mayor to enter into contracts  for a bailiff and city attorney.

• Approved a liquor license Patterson Phillips 66 at 2885 Patterson Road.

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