Missoula City Council members must revise and reapprove their fiscal year 2018 budget resolution because of inadvertent errors in the original document approved in July, the city’s chief administrative officer said Monday night.
Dale Bickell assured the council that the budget they discussed and approved remains the same. But the actual resolution approved July 24 had three significant errors amounting to a $25 million difference between the resolution and reality.
So now they need to reconsider and reapprove the resolution to show a total city budget of $209 million. They’ll begin that process at 1:40 p.m. Wednesday in City Council chambers, meeting as the Budget Committee of the Whole.
“Essentially, we are amending the resolution. We are not amending the budget. The resolution that the council adopted inadvertently excluded a couple of items, and in fact there are three areas that we discovered errors on that we do need to correct.”
No. 1, the budget resolution did not include the interest expense on the debt service for Missoula’s purchase of Mountain Water Co. The numbers were included in all the budget materials given to and discussed by City Council members, Bickell said. “But that number didn’t get into the resolution.”
No. 2, there were changes made in the city’s administrative budget and approved by the council but then didn’t make it into the final budget resolution. Those, too, will be added to the revised resolution.
And finally, No. 3, “the big one,” is $18 million that was in the projected end-of-year fund balance numbers, but that was inadvertently left out in the budget resolution. Those numbers were related to the utilities – water, wastewater and stormwater – and the city’s operating units, the Missoula Parking Commission and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency.
“Again, this is not changing any of the parameters that we discussed, related to the actual budget documents that the council discussed and approved,” Bickell said. “It doesn’t change any of the levy calculations.”
Bickell said he would provide more specifics at Wednesday’s committee meeting, where the revised budget resolution will be presented.
In the meantime, the change drew the ire of Jesse Ramos, a Ward 4 citizen and candidate for City Council.
Commenting at Monday night’s meeting, Ramos scolded council members for not the inaccurate resolution approved in July, as well as for what he termed “excessive spending.”
“Do you know how closely you are being watched?” he asked. “$25 million is an Enron-level accounting error.”