Moberly likely will lose about $300,000 in sales tax revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to reports from the city’s financial department.


The city’s 2019-2020 fiscal year is coming to a close and city officials worked Thursday to find areas where the budget can be cut or reduced to counterbalance revenue losses.


City Finance Director Greg Hodge and City Manager Brian Crane combed through the projected 2020-2021 budget with the Moberly City Council. The projected loss of revenue will be a big hit to the city’s budget, but the pandemic could cost even more than expected.


“It’s still really early in the process and we’re trying to collect as much information as we can, as far a revenues and expenses,” Crane said. “We’ve definitely slowed down our expenses anticipating a shortfall or reduction in revenues.


The city expects at least a 5% decrease in sales tax revenue when compared to last year.


Most capital improvement projects across city departments are being pushed back to the 2021-2022 fiscal year, unless the city already is under contract for the work or it could be paid for if the $18 million bond issue passes in Tuesday’s municipal election.


“If it was a discretionary project, we definitely deferred it to the following year just to make sure,” Crane said. “We’re going to closely monitor our revenues, and if for some reason we have overestimated how bad it is going to be, we can maybe pull back and fund some of those.”


The council tentatively decided at the work session that it would get rid of a 1.5% employee pay increase to counteract the loss in revenue. If revenues end up better than expected, the city may give employees a one-time salary adjustment instead. The 1.5% raise for all employees would cost about $67,000, Hodge said.


The city is expecting about $20,000 more from online sales tax revenues, because so many people have been doing their shopping online, Hodge said. The city also likely will pull $224,000 from its reserve payroll and street improvement funds, which Hodge described as “rainy day” funds.


The city’s next budget meeting is June 8 and will involve city department heads. The budget has to be completed and submitted to the state by the end of June.


ecliburn@moberlymonitor.com