New Madrid's 2018 budget funds completion of infrastructure work

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

NEW MADRID, Mo. -- With major projects completed or nearly finished, New Madrid city officials intend to slow spending for the coming year.

The New Madrid City Council approved the 2018 budgets which call for estimated expenditures in the city of $2,349,024.24 and projected revenues of $2,350,206. Expenditures for the city's Municipal Light and Power are expected to total $4,054,802.53 with revenues forecast at $4,057,190, which includes a 3 percent increase in residential electric rates and a 5 percent increase for large power users.

City Administrator Richard McGill said the city's 2018 budget is very similar to 2017 in terms of day-to-day operations. However, he noted, New Madrid continues to benefit from the 2013 sale of the city-owned power plant to Associated Electric Company with those monies funding projects such as the extension of sidewalks and street lights on Main Street which was completed last year and the expected completion of the city's new water treatment plant, electrical substation and automated metering system scheduled to wrap up this year.

"We are pretty much done with the big projects such as the substation and the water treatment plant so what we are going to try to do now are smaller things and try to really save some of that (AECI money) and try to build interest on it," McGill said. "Once that money is gone, it is gone. So we need to be good stewards of it and make sure that we have money into the future."

McGill estimated the construction on the new water treatment plant is 75 to 80 percent complete. The 2018 budget has $1,590,500 set aside to fund the completion.

The construction of the electrical substation is complete with just some transmission lines still needed, he said.

The $1,114,832 automatic metering project has a final payment in the 2018 budget of $345,151.82.

The city administrator said the installation of 1,830 water meters and 1,896 electric meters is almost complete throughout the city.

"It has been a challenge in some instances in trying to get what has been installed integrated with our billing system," McGill said. "We didn't expect it to go flawlessly; we knew there would be some hiccups and so we are working through those. ... We are hoping that project will be closed out very soon."

The 2018 budget has $320,595 for street improvements for the city's three wards.

Emphasizing the list is preliminary and subject to change, McGill said streets proposed for improvements include First Street, Second Street and Russell Street.

"A lot of that will be intersection work," he said. "What we hope to do is repair those and hit some spots along those roads that are bad. We might not redo an entire stretch of a road but we will fix what is bad and smooth it out to make it as good as it once was, hopefully."

Also on the proposed list for work are St. Margaret Street, the northern part of Kingshighway from Blades Drive to Pinnell Street along with LaForge and Locust streets.

The city has set aside $390,000 for drainage work.

McGill said city workers completed drainage improvements at one end of St. Lawrence Street in 2017 and will tackle the other end in 2018. He is also awaiting word on whether the city will receive grants to fund work on three other areas prone to flooding.

"Even though people will benefit from a new water treatment plant and we will have better electric stability through our new substation, when you are actually riding on these roads every day or you are seeing the reduced flooding, that is what people will actually notice," he said about the expenditures.

The city budget also includes $100,000 to repair the water tower on Mill Street.

According to McGill, the city's Municipal Light and Power budget involves mostly labor and operating costs. He said there is funding for equipment repairs in 2018 but no major equipment purchases planned.

"There is absolutely nothing big, extraordinary or out of the ordinary," he said. "We would love to add some equipment but we are not at the point where we are desperate for it. We think we can do some repairs with what we have and be more cost-effective that way."

Overall, McGill described the budgets, which were unanimously approved Dec. 28, as conservative and said he expects expenditures to continue to drop as major projects come to an end.

"We put a lot of time and thought into (the budgets)," McGill said. "I feel lucky to have a city council that wants to represent the entire city and isn't just looking at doing specific areas of town but wants to improve the entire city."

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