Council puts final stamp on 2024 budget

Dennis Sharkey / Editor
Posted 9/16/23

The city of Mexico put the final stamp on the 2024 fiscal year budget after approving the tax levy last month at the council’s regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 11.

City Manager Bruce …

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Council puts final stamp on 2024 budget


The city of Mexico put the final stamp on the 2024 fiscal year budget after approving the tax levy last month at the council’s regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 11.

City Manager Bruce Slagle said at the meeting that the budget is strong and delivers great value while providing outstanding service. He said the budget delivers on planned infrastructure projects and he highlighted the city’s ability to leverage federal grant funds into more grants for stormwater projects.

“This budget is responsible, responsive, and balanced,” Slagle said.

Slagle said it wasn’t easy putting together the budget and there are several challenges facing every department including staffing shortages. The city, like the rest of the country and state, continues to transition from a pandemic to an endemic.

“We continue to navigate many of the lingering effects like supply chain issues, high fuel prices, labor shortage, and perhaps most significantly inflation,” Slagle said.

Mexico has also faced some harsh realities in the past 12 months including the closing of the hospital last year. Slagle said it was the city’s biggest employer.

“Recent hospital ownership groups have left a bad taste in the community’s mouth and the situation has been turbulent over the last year,” Slagle said.

The city committed money this past year to a study to look at what the city’s needs are in line with what’s economically viable. The study was released this week after the deadline.

“This is a top priority for next year to try to get hospital service back in our community,” Slagle said.

The city is competing with surrounding communities for workers which has led to shortages in every city department. Slagle said currently the city is slightly below average but the hope is a cost of living increase built into the budget will offset it.

“Maintaining full staffing levels has been impossible with the current employment market,” Slagle said. “Since the summer of 2021, the workforce has plateaued and has made it difficult to attract employees. “Providing competitive wages and benefits has placed additional pressures on our financial resources,” 

The city is also battling a housing shortage on all fronts. People who are looking for new housing and rentals are all in the same boat. Last year the city along with Audrain County came up with an incentive program for developers to help offset the costs of water and sewer construction. The city and county each contributed $250,000 to the program. So far less than half of the plan’s money has been used up.

“Far fewer homes are being built compared to the people who want them, therefore housing and rent prices have risen,” Slagle said about the need for the program.

Slagle said not every department got what it wanted and some requests were not funded, however some big projects will still be completed this year thanks to efforts by city staff in obtaining grants and the efforts of some civic groups in their fundraising efforts.

“This budget the city also sought donations and grant dollars in order to help us fund several other projects and we were very successful in doing that,” Slagle said.

There are two items that residents need to watch in the coming months. Slagle said a four percent increase to the city’s wastewater rates is included in the budget and the city will be negotiating a new refuse collection contract next spring with the anticipation of rates increasing there as well.

Mayor Vicki Briggs said she was excited to pass the budget.

“I think the budget is kind of exciting in a way,” Briggs said. “It says what we’re doing, and what we hope to be doing.”