Say that five times fast. You can’t do it. Here’s how people keep this city running.
My first few articles with the magazine have focused on the City of Jefferson’s general fund budget — it is in that portion of our budget that the city council has the broadest discretion and the tightest available funding. In a nutshell, the general fund is where all of the appropriation action appears to be. But the general fund is really only half of our annual budget story.
Another quarter of the story — totaling more than $17,500,000 in annual spending — involves a handful of accounts, known as enterprise funds, supporting the city’s airport, wastewater, parking, and transit services, all under the administration of the director of public works. What sets these funds apart is that each one is tied to a city service, which generates a significant portion of its own operating revenue. The city council closely scrutinizes and approves each enterprise fund’s annual budget and each large purchase and contract expenditure as they come. Regular collection of fees for these services throughout the year provides some assurance that the dollars will be there when we need them.
The Jefferson City Parking division administers all of the city’s parking lots and garages, as well as nearly 1,000 metered parking spaces. The parking division normally generates over $900,000 of revenue annually from sources such as parking meter receipts ($250,000), city parking lot revenue ($250,000), monthly garage rentals ($205,000), hourly garage fees ($125,000), and parking fines ($120,000).
The Jefferson City Transit division runs the city’s public transportation system. While the vast majority of the transit division’s $2.52 million annual revenue comes from federal operating grants ($790,000) and transfers from the general fund ($1.14 million), nearly $200,000 is from charges for transit services, such as bus fares and rider passes.
**It bears mentioning that the suspension of parking enforcement and fare collection in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is sure to impact parking and transit receipts negatively this year.
The Jefferson City Airport division’s annual budgeted revenue has been around half a million dollars for the past few years. The majority of this amount comes from state grants and transfers from the general fund, but a substantial portion ($156,000) is generated by service charges collected for municipal airport operations, including rent and lease fees and flowage fees on fuel deliveries.
The wastewater division collects and treats wastewater for Jefferson City as well as for several adjacent watershed areas and towns, operating 429 miles of collection lines and 33 pump stations. The wastewater division generates almost $12.6 million of revenue annually, including more than $11.5 million that comes from customer sewer charges.
I acknowledge that this is not the most exciting topic, even when compared to discussions of other municipal budget issues. Nonetheless, it is important for our neighbors to know that more than a quarter of the city’s budget is largely self-sustaining. What we pay the city for these services goes back into funding the workforce and maintaining and improving our ability to provide these services going forward. This structure provides important stability and predictability when crafting budgets for this essential corner of city operations.