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Branson discloses budget gap created by COVID-19

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Last edited 11:21 a.m., May 14, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has delivered a large blow to Branson's budget.

The city yesterday issued an update on its fiscal 2020 budget, showing the general fund is now projected at $13.2 million for the fiscal year. That's down roughly 35% from the $20.4 million that had been expected prior to the pandemic. It's based on the assumption that no sales tax revenue will be recorded from March through July, as coronavirus orders have slowed the tourist city's economy.

Expenditures were adjusted to $17.4 million, down from $21.1 million. The budget document also outlines an expected $6 million drop in tourism fund revenues to $7.5 million for the year.

City officials say reserves and expense cuts have resulted in "good financial health." However, officials could not be reached for comment by deadline on how much in reserves is being used to cover budget shortfalls. The budget document points to an “expected unreserved fund balance of 23% at 2020 year-end.”

Expenditure cuts have included a hiring freeze on 22 unfilled, unspecified positions; cutting all capital spending; furloughing 10 part-time positions; and pausing raises, according to the budget document.

The Branson Board of Aldermen in March began restrictions on business activities amid the coronavirus pandemic. The board voted May 4 to start the reopening process in line with state guidelines, according to a separate release.

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