(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Local governments have begun slashing budgets and pinching pennies as officials brace for the impact of COVID-19.
"We are trying to figure out how to pay the bills," Buchanan County Commissioner Ron Hook said. "Fortunately we have some money in our reserved fund and we can live off that reserve."
Right now, Buchanan County officials say things are fine and last year's flooding taught everyone that rainy day funds aren't a luxury but a necessity.
"This year we put an extra $200,000 in our reserve fund and built up our rainy day fund if you will," Buchanan County Commissioner Scott Burnham said.
The financial toll of the pandemic is still out of focus, but there's no doubt about it, St. Joseph and Buchanan County will take a hit.
"We anticipate that there's going to be a shortfall, probably beginning at the end of April," Burnham said.
St. Joseph officials propose shaving about $11 million off of next year's budget, anticipating less money from sales taxes and money from the casino.
The county expects to take the same kind of hits.
"The gaming fund is down about 2 percent from this time last year," Burnham said. "However because of the 2019 flooding, it was already down by about 18 percent last year."
The financial squeeze felt from households up to the state level. Governor Mike Parson announced a $500-million dollar shortfall for the remainder of this budget year.
"We have weekly conference phone calls with state and federal leaders and we listen to what's going on at the federal level," Burnham said.
With time still left in this fiscal year and next year still unknown, city, county and state officials attempt to outline a budget.
"When you get hit with a flood and then you get hit with a virus back-to-back like this, this is definitely uncharted waters for all of us," Burnham said.
City leaders also talked about a proposal to keep the public pools closed through the summer because of the coronavirus. If that idea is adopted, it will save the city approximately $175,000.