Mayor’s Weekly Update
October 29, 2010
The FY 11 Budget failed to pass at Monday evening’s Council session. Despite being a
balanced budget, Council had two issues with the budget, wages and storm water utility. I will
discuss the storm water utility issue latter in this weekly update. There were equity pay raises for
a number of supervisory personnel and the Fire and Electric Departments. The majority of
Council cited constituent opposition to these wage increases. I disagree with Council’s majority
position for a number of reasons. The supervisory personnel equity increases were to
compensate for prior salary inequities and were not full equity solutions due to fiscal constraints.
There were issues of increased demands upon those supervisory personnel with additional duties
and responsibilities added to compensate for the personnel reductions in the City’s work force
over the past two years. Our Fire and Electric Department personnel are underpaid for what they
do. In the case of the Electric Department, there were no increases in the Department’s labor and
benefits costs. This was due to the fact that those budget dollars were being shifted from a
recently retired supervisor to all personnel within the Department. Therefore, there was no
increase in revenue required to support these pay increases of the entire Department.
In the case of the Fire Department there exists a pay differential of about $1,000 to $1,300
annually for any given pay grade between Police and Fire. The intent was to provide equity in
pay between the two emergency services departments. In all three cases these equity increases
would have been in lieu of the 1.5% COLA that was previously approved by Council. In the
case of the Electric Department there was an actual savings in wages, benefits, and taxes to the
citizens. The total cost of these increases for the general fund would have been slightly over
$57,000. This cost included all wages, benefits, and taxes.
We have to take care of our work force. While I fully understand the opposition to providing
wage increases to employees from the public during a time of recession and local layoffs; I also
realize that Lebanon must be competitive in our wages in order to retain and attract highly
qualified and experienced personnel to our work force. Having said that, the staff has re-worked
the budget removing these equity increases and replacing them with the 1.5% COLA increase to
the affected employees and the re-worked budget will be presented to Council during our special
session Friday evening. The budget still remains balanced.
To address the issue of the Storm Water Utility, the below was extracted from the Mayor’s
Report to Council, Monday, October 25, 2010.
“I wanted to discuss with Council this evening the issue of a Storm Water Utility as Mrs. Hurney
raised it in Council during our last session and that I have had a number of conversations with
citizens on the subject as have each of you. The idea of a storm water utility is not the brain
storm of the staff. It is the mandates placed upon this City by the US Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
We have several options here. The first is to simply ignore these mandates and continue
business as usual. This is not generally an advisable approach as both the EPA and DNR are
more than willing to bring suit against the City. I will remind Council that the City has
previously gone this route and the resulting law suit cost the City several hundreds of thousands
of dollars in legal fees and court costs and we lost the law suit; which is why we have just spent
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Mayor’s Weekly Update
October 29, 2010
$4.2 million dollars to expand and improve our Waste Water Treatment Plant under a court
ordered consent decree.
The other option is to implement these requirements and hopefully avoid expensive and
unnecessary litigation against the City.
What are the program requirements? They are certainly more than just public education as some
have made reference to. Public education on storm water runoff control is but one part of the
total program. Other things that are required include: a master plan, infrastructure development,
easement acquisition, infrastructure development, infrastructure inspection, maintenance, and
improvements, and of course reporting to the DNR and EPA. All of this takes planning,
personnel, materials, and equipment and most importantly: money. We have already started the
planning side by conducting research and analysis of the problem and including line items in the
FY11 Budget. More study and analysis is required for implementation. Council will be
provided that information when is it ready for presentation to Council. We are already absorbing
some of this expense every time we clean out a storm water drain that is clogged with grass
clippings.
So how does the City pay for this? Again, there are several options. The first is to absorb the
cost from current budget line items. The down side of this is what critical service takes the
reduction? Streets? We have had a number of complaints from last winter because we were not
maintaining streets as people thought we should. We had limited fiscal resources and can we
legally divert the street sales tax money from its intended purpose? I don’t believe that we can.
Water? We are already in the hole with the Water Department because of the PWSD3 law suit.
Do we add a further burden to people’s water bill? Perhaps waste water? Again, we have added
more costs in order to settle the EPA/ DNR law suit and resulting consent degree to the tune of
$4.2 million dollars that must be recouped from our customers in their sewer bills. Do we raise
taxes? I don’t think that our citizens can tolerate a tax increase in this recession (I do not think
that the recession is actually over despite official claims that it is over); nor would our citizens
vote to implement a tax to support this measure. So where do we get the money to pay for these
mandates (and as I have stated previously unfunded mandates that violate the Hancock
Amendment of the State of Missouri)? The only reasonable source of funding would appear to
be a user fee based upon the actual runoff from non-porous surfaces. That places the burden on
the actual user. Do I like this? No, and I am sure that none of you or our constituents do either.
But what is the alternative? Frankly, I would like to bring a law suit against the EPA (DNR and
the State are protected from lawsuits) to prevent this kind of over-kill regulatory power but the
City simply does not have the fiscal resources necessary to prevail against the Federal
government. This is why I strongly support Senator Kit Bond’s initiatives to stop the cap and
trade bill and rein in the EPA by controlling their regulatory powers.
The bottom line is Washington and Jefferson City have given small cities like Lebanon mandates
to fulfill and they don’t care how we pay for it or what we give up to pay for it with.
Unfortunately, unlike Washington, D. C.; the City of Lebanon does not have its own printing
press and can not just print up the cash to solve the problem. But solve the problem we must do.
These mandates do not state how to pay for the solution so that is up to this body. These are
tough decisions. The staff is working hard to identify all of the issues and to develop courses of
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Mayor’s Weekly Update
October 29, 2010
action for me, as Mayor, to review and decide upon an appropriate solution to recommend to
Council. This Council must then make the final decision on how to pay for these mandates. The
implication of some ill informed individuals that somehow the City or this Council is making
money on this issue is ridiculous. I guess those individuals forget that this body must pay all of
the same fees and taxes as our City’s citizens and businesses do.”
In short, I don’t think that anyone is happy with this situation other than the EPA and DNR. But
we are faced with it and must develop viable solutions that are funded. These are projected
expenses and as such had to be reflected within the City’s budget. In response to Council’s
objections, the staff has removed projected revenue lines from the budget. Only maintenance
expenditure lines have been retained as funded expenditures and these will be funded by
operational cost transfers from the street, water, and waste water maintenance funds as
appropriate. All other projected expenditures are retained within the line items but are listed as
being unfunded. As the requirements are further defined by EPA and or DNR regulations,
Council will be informed of the requirement and an expenditure authorization as well as funding
source recommendations will be provided for Council consideration. This is a tough problem
that will not go away and that will require resolution sooner rather than latter; the sooner the
better.
City Hall will re-open on Monday 1 November with the following offices re-locating: Mayor’s
Office, City Administrator’s Office, City Clerk’s Office, Utilities Billing, Human Resources, and
Community Development.
The Trunk or Treat outdoor movie “Monsters Inc.” will be shown at the Cowan Civic Center on
Saturday evening. This promises to be a good event and fun for all.
The next regular City Council meeting is November 15th at 7PM Council Chambers, City Hall.
Please join us.
There will be a special session of Council this Friday (today), October 29th at 6PM, Council
Chambers, City Hall to address the Budget passage.
If you wish to make a comment, ask a question, express a concern, or make an appointment to
speak with me; please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] or call City Hall 417532-2156 for an appointment.
Respectfully,
CP Craig
Mayor
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