Ferguson approves $408k 2019-20 budget

Allen Dobbs

Ferguson City Council has approved a 2019-2020 budget totaling $408,600.58. Projected income is bolstered by $70,000 from the county's 1 percent occupational tax, about $30,000 more than the occupational tax allotment last fiscal year.

The council also amended last fiscal year's budget to correct an estimated $102,000 in occupational tax money which turned out to be $62,000 more than the some $40,000 actually received. Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley said Ferguson's share of the occupational tax was lowered in 2016.

Ferguson's error in estimating the amount of occupational tax money was because small cities in the county formerly received more than $100,000 annually from the occupational tax. Apparently Ferguson councilors apparently weren't aware of the allotment reduction when they prepared the 2018-2019 budget.

Pulaski Fiscal Court during last fiscal year's budget cycle voted to withhold Ferguson's entire share of the occupational tax after Ferguson levied a 6.32 percent tax on fire insurance premiums and an 8 percent tax on life insurance premiums. However, after negotiation for a couple of months, county government agreed to increase Ferguson's share of occupational tax funds to $70,000 and take a wait-and-see position on how much Ferguson's taxes on insurance premiums yield.

Kelley told the Commonwealth Journal Ferguson's occupational tax allocation may be adjusted according to the amount Ferguson's insurance levies yield. Mayor Allen Dobbs said the insurance taxes amount to about $2,000 a month, or $24,000 a year, but Kelley said Ferguson's insurance taxes bring in "about $28,000 a year." Debbie Lake, Ferguson City Clerk, said taxes on insurance premiums are expected to bring in $50,000 this year.

The amount, whichever is correct, takes away from the approximately $3.2 million Pulaski County's 5.5 percent countywide taxes on insurance premiums enrich the county's General Fund.

Magistrate Mark Ranshaw, in whose 4th District the city of Ferguson lies, apparently was instrumental in getting Ferguson's share of the occupational tax increased. He promised during the negotiations to keep an eye on the situation to make sure $70,000 as Ferguson's negotiated share of the occupational tax remained in the county's budget.

Other financial resources available to Ferguson's 2019-2020 budget, effective July 1, include: Motor vehicle tax, $6,000; property tax, $50,000; franchise fees/license permits, $38,000; other income, $117,300; intergovernment revenue, $6,000; Parks Department, $10,200; Municipal Aid road fund, $84,324.26 and severance tax, $26,776.32. Lake said the $50,000 in estimated revenue from insurance premiums is included among other sources of revenue for the current fiscal year.

Budget appropriations include police salaries, $64,000; other police department expenses, $32,800; park expenses, $16,800; administrative expenses, salaries, $12,000; other administrative expenses, $143,000; and contingency fund, $28,900.