July 10, 2023 Special Commission Meeting Minutes

July 10, 2023 Special Commission Meeting Minutes

July 10, 2023 Special Commission Meeting Minutes

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Special Commission Meeting

July 10, 2023                                                                                                                       5:00 P.M.

Mayor Aaron Thompson called the meeting to order with Vice-Mayor J. J. Howard, Commissioner Jason Showalter, Commissioner Ann Myers and Commissioner Brook Redlin responding to roll call. 

Also present were Dustin Bedore – Director of Electric Utilities, Jason Erhart – Assistant Chief of Police, Sami Windle – Museum Director, LeAnn Taylor – Municipal Court Clerk/Judge, Joshua Jordan – IT Director, Kenton Keith – Director of Streets and Facilities, Neal Thornburg – Director of Water and Wastewater, Danny Krayca – Director of Parks, Zach Hildebrand – Code Enforcement/Building Official, Mary Volk – City Clerk and Kent Brown – City Manager.

Mayor Thompson led Pledge of Allegiance


  1. 2024 Budget – Kent stated, originally we presented a budget that required 56.764 mills, which we know is too much.  Last meeting we presented a list of changes to advalorem funds to get to 47.876 mills, not reaching RNR but lower than last year.  General consensus of the commission at meeting was not to meet RNR.  After further discussion, the Mayor recommended meeting tonight.  During the last week staff reviewed items to recommend you add back into budget.  Commissioner Redlin asked, were cuts presented by priority?  Kent stated, no all departments were reviewed for possible reduction so they are listed by department, identifying items that could be realistic to reduce or what could be delayed a year.  Total general fund revenue items on worksheet were $53,500 while expenditures were $272,821.  We want to be conservative yet not overstate revenue.  Kent reviewed items on the list with commission.  Reducing the transfers from sewer and water utilities to general were not included in original list.  With utility funds having issues we recommend reducing transfers to the amount in 2022 budget.  We also would like to do the same for electric utility.  The transfers affect general fund, making our target farther away.  It is common to utilize utility fees to reduce property tax.  We consider these franchise fees for office staff for each utility.  What will be a good rate?  Mayor Thompson asked, what kind of shape is the roof on the Armory?  I would like to see an updated estimate to replace the roof.  I am in favor the transfer remains in budget with this type of expenditure.  Commissioner Showalter and Commissioner Redlin agree with Mayor Thompson.  Kent stated, on the police vehicle transfer, the department will have two to three vehicles approaching 100,000 miles.  Mayor Thompson stated, I realize our goal is to replace them at 100,000 miles; however, what are maintenance costs on vehicles?  Jason stated, they are not large items, but there is wear and tear.  Commissioner Showalter stated, last year we replaced two then requesting two more this year, I feel that is a lot of vehicles replaced.  I feel more comfortable replacing one vehicle this year.  Kent stated, we noticed last year delivery dates provided issues getting vehicles.  With the radios there is a possible grant but we will not be informed of award until after budget so we cannot bank on grant.  Total proposed reduction in police budget is $65,000.  Mayor Thompson stated, the commission consensus is to keep roof transfer of $10,000 in the budget.  I agree with Commissioner Showalter on the vehicle.  Commissioner Redlin stated, I also agree.  Kent stated, so net reduction in police department is $55,000.  For the van, the State reduced the grant amount awarded the city.  Mayor Thompson stated current fees are $1.50 per trip, is it time to consider increasing fees to balance out costs.  Kent stated, building inspection had minor reductions.  Mayor Thompson stated, I am not in favor of reducing the nuisance housing rehabilitation program.  If we can continue to help people fix up property to keep off nuisance list, I want to promote program.  Commissioner Myers asked, how do we promote program?  Mayor Thompson stated, it is tough because there is a small amount of people that will utilize the funds.  Commissioner Redlin stated, the housing committee is discussing other ways to promote programs.  Mayor Thompson stated, this program is income based to help lower income.  Kent stated, in street and alley Stage 2 of Cherry Street project between railroad and highway is difficult as we will have to bypass road.  Mayor Thompson stated, this winter has been difficult on that road; I would like to see transfer remain in budget.  Commissioner Showalter stated, I agree this is a priority to keep in budget.  Kent stated, another large item is transfer for next loader.  Street and alley require a lot of equipment and tools to maintain operations.  Commissioner Showalter stated, the transfer for the street sweeper is removed, but current sweeper is in bad condition.  Kent stated, balance for sweeper in MERF is $231,000.  I asked Kenton to request a new estimate on cost.  Kenton stated, Key Equipment informed me they sell equipment identical to our existing sweeper for $300,000.  Purchase needs to be sooner than later with cost continuing to increase; it is running but keeps breaking down.  Kent stated, we have not put out official bids but this will be item that comes up sooner than later.  We may need to look at lease option.  Total reduction in street and alley is $88,741.  Mayor Thompson asked, is the sweeper or loader more of a priority?  Kent stated, loaders are used a lot.  Kenton stated, my concern is the older equipment gets, the more costs are to keep equipment operable.  My maintenance budget is very minimal.  We have a New Holland loader where the part has been on back order.  That is a tough call.  I feel it is tough to cut the loader because of snow removal.  Vice-Mayor Howard asked, how much do we spend each year on sweeper?  Kenton stated, about five years ago we rebuilt the machine for $45,000 and it continues blowing hydraulic lines.  Key Equipment said the average life of a sweeper is seven years and we are on year thirteen.  Mayor Thompson stated, I would choose the sweeper transfer in budget between the two.  Vice-Mayor Howard asked, what about reducing the amount to $15,000 for sweeper instead of $25,000.  Consensus of commission is in agreement with Vice-Mayor Howard.  Kent stated, the parks budget is reduced by retirement wage and zero turn mower transfers.  One mower will reach limit and we can continue to put money away for other mower.  Danny stated, our current models are 2006 and in good shape because of service and maintenance program we do.  With moisture this year we are mowing more than past years.  Expected purchase cost remains at $21,000.  Kent stated, cemetery transfer will be scheduled from the improvement fund.  Mayor Thompson asked, if the museum roof is in bad shape why not consider the transfer?  Do we need to start putting money aside for replacement?  Danny stated, the joint where they added on to the museum is where the problem exists.  I have been patching it every year.  It is a metal roof and we have been able to get by with patching.  Commissioner Redlin stated, I feel we should consider the transfer.  Mayor Thompson stated, I do not feel it should be necessary for this budget but need to make plans in future to get it done.  Consensus of commission is to add $2,500 in museum for inspection on roof.  Kent stated, there are minor cuts in the recreation budget.  Mayor Thompson stated, our contract with GAC is pretty significant.  She has provided brief synopsis on programs, but not a financial breakdown how our funds are used to maintain services.  Kent stated, in waterpark we made minor reductions on transfers for pool improvements in both CIRF and MERF.  Both have balances that help take care of minor items that come up with pool.  Commissioner Myers stated, I feel our admission is cheaper than surrounding pools with repairs we have had to make.  Mayor Thompson stated, that is tough to know how high to set fee.  There have been minor adjustments this year.  The pool will never make money but it is a service we provide community.  Vice-Mayor Howard stated, with changes it appears we are back to same levy as before legislature enforced RNR, with increased valuation.  Kent stated, there are other reductions in advalorem in the employee benefits and airport funds.   Airport fund is City match for grant funding.  Mayor Thompson stated, the airport has been fortunate with funding last few years. 

Kent stated, in utility funds staff recommended minor reductions but needs direction.  Major changes are reductions of transfers to general fund.  As previously discussed, we are using cash balance to budget utility funds.  They each have a reserve fund but it does not take much to exhaust reserves.  It is rare to spend entire budget for utility funds.  The changes recommended in sewer utility eliminates deficit but does not take care of major expenses needed.  The budgets maintain systems but we will have to review what needs to be done with rates.  We have been fortunate to have ARPA money for sewer improvements this year but it is not renewable.  We cannot keep using cash balance in utility funds.  Sewer recommendations reduce expenditures $48,425 and water reductions $22,500.  Expenditures exceed revenues in both utility funds.  We will have some major expenses we need to address with towers soon.  Electric utility looks like a large business but again expenditures exceed revenues if we spend the entire budget.  Last meeting Mayor Thompson asked how other cities can have lower rates and pay the bills.  The major utility provider on east end of state is proposing a $14.50 increase this year and the big provider in Colorado raises rates every year.  Every utility is facing the same issues.  It costs a lot to maintain the system.  Our department does a good job being proactive with maintenance.  If we stop maintenance it will cause problems down the road.  Does commission want additional cuts to match revenues with expenditures?  With items listed, budget will show a small cash balance at end of 2024.  Do we make more reductions or do you want a separate discussion after budget concerning rates?  Mayor Thompson stated, I feel we go forward with minor changes as presented but we need to have a serious discussion regarding the rates long term.  Vice-Mayor Howard stated, we need to have minimal annual adjustments in the rates rather than wait until we have major expenditure.  I agree move forward with recommendations and discuss rates later.  Mayor Thompson stated, rates are a difficult discussion.  No one likes it when you raise prices, but we do not want to be in position we cannot provide services because of a major breakdown.  I would rather spend more to prevent things like that from happening.  We are not raising rates right now, but need to have a serious discussion.  I am satisfied with how budget is presented.  Kent stated, you are letting public know there are some tough decisions that need to be made but also that we are upside down.  Mayor Thompson stated, I hope public knows what departments have done to keep rates down for a number of years.  We cannot do it forever or we will be spending more and providing less service.  Kent stated, an example is in water and sewer with additional expenses for testing but no additional funding.  Staff will present revised budget and resolution for exceeding RNR to send to County Clerk at next meeting.  Public hearing will be in September.  When we send information to County Clerk that sets maximum rate for budget. Mayor Thompson stated, I appreciate everyone for the budget discussion and input  

ADJOURNMENT WAS HAD ON A MOTION Commissioner Redlin seconded by Vice-Mayor Howard.  Motion carried by unanimous VOTE, meeting Adjourned at 6:45 p.m.


ATTEST:                                                                               Aaron Thompson, Mayor


Mary P. Volk, City Clerk