Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes introduced his fiscal year 2014 budget recommendations on Friday.
The budget recommendation calls for $414 million with an estimated revenue of $386 million. A planned use of previous fund balances makes up the difference between the two.
Matthes designates an additional 21 job positions in the budget – three of those in the police department. In response to Boone County Sherriff Dwayne Carey’s recent chiding of city police to the Columbia Tribune, Mathes said the city’s crime rate is actually down and all four suspects in recent shootings have been arrested. He said the additional police called for in the budget are part of a plan to patrol targeted neighborhoods. Also, he said a task force will be set up to help young men in the community preemptively make better choices when it comes to violent crimes.
“Crime is a lot like cancer. There are many causes. And not one treatment can solve it all. We have to have many approaches across the whole spectrum of reasons why people commit these crimes,” Matthes said.
Additional projects in the proposed budget include a park and ride program, city parking fee increases, and a one-stop informational contact center for the Public Works Department. Also, health care premiums for retired city employees are set to wrap up their two year phase out by Jan. 1. And CAT-TV will not receive budget funding, as the public access channel’s contract with the city has ended.
This is the first year since 1989 that the general fund gap between revenue and expenses has been closed. The first of four budget sessions open to the public begins August 19.