City of Branson, Mo. projects $400,000 general fund deficit; looks at ways to balance budget

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 5:32 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) -The city of Branson is projecting a $400,000 deficit in the general fund after cuts.

The Branson Board of Aldermen held a study session Thursday to discuss city fees and proposals to increase the charges to citizens and businesses.

“Doesn’t feel comfortable saying we have a five year balanced budget when we know sitting here today we are going to have those expenses,” Mayor Larry Milton said.

During the finance study session, the Branson Board of Alderman were given a look at financial projections along with the discussion of various city fees. Director of Finance Jamie Rouch says the city’s reserve fund is higher than anticipated.

“Our operations revenues versus expenditures ongoing seems to be what is causing some of the drag down from the general fund,” Jamie Rouch said.

Rouch says many of the departments have gone through and reduced their expenditures.

”To where they can’t really reduce it anymore, if you reduce anymore then you have to look at what programs and services are you willing to give up,” Rouch said.

She says the city needs to look closely at revenue and one option is increasing fees. City Attorney Chris Lebeck says the difference between taxes and fees is that fees are voluntary, taxes are not.

”These are fees that are designed to ensure new development pays its fair share of the infrastructure needs it creates, we’re talking fire, police, sewer, water, road, sidewalks,” Chris Lebeck said.

Lebeck says true user fees do not require voter approval.

”Keller Test is what gives us this weighing test, we look at five various factors to determine is this a fee we can go ahead and address at the municipal level,” Lebeck said.

Mayor Larry Milton says he is struggling with the idea of raising fees.

”Let’s not charge higher fees for people who want to bring events to Branson, because when they bring events to Branson, we have tens of thousands of tax dollars that the city will receive,” said Milton.

Rouch says budget documents will be sent out Friday, September 24. City leaders plan to discuss more in-depth the projected 2022 budget during the next meeting.

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