Several changes were made to the budget before final approval, including a change in the City Mechanic position, which dominated the majority of comments both from the council and the public.
The position was changed from full-time with benefits to part-time without benefits at the request of the employee.
Monte Wells, city resident, asked if there was a system in place to track hours worked and if they had established a plan for times when the mechanic is unable to respond to city needs.
City Manager Kelly Pehrson reported that the mechanic will be used as an on-call basis and will clock in and out when working on city projects. Pehrson added the mechanic will continue to be paid the same rate he is currently working at and will work set hours in the mornings at the golf course, in addition to the on-call work.
Pehrson said they are unsure at this time if there will be more work than can be covered by a part time mechanic and the issue may have to be revisited in the future.
With the change to the mechanic position, the council discussed plans for approximately $30,000 that will be saved which had already been included in the budget.
Mayor Doug Allen presented the council with an outline for a cost of living increase for all full-time city employees of two percent, which would cost the city approximately $11,600.
Mayor Allen expressed his feeling that the employees have taken on more responsibilities and duties with less people as the city has tried to cut back and save money and have not seen an increase in pay in nearly three years.
Councilman Brad Randall questioned the Mayor’s proposal, stating concerns about it being added to the budget at the last minute in order to hurry it through.
Allen pointed out the timing of the proposal coincided with the change to the mechanic position. Allen stated that he was proposing a modest cost of living increase using funds that had already been budget for employee costs.
Allen told the council they should consider putting that money toward an “investment in our employees before we lose them all.”
Councilman Randall said that the money saved by the employment change should not be spent, but returned to the enterprise funds. Randall reminded the council that when utility rates were raised, they agreed to discuss putting any excess money in the general fund back to the enterprise funds rather than looking for other places to spend it.
Councilman Scott Shakespeare said they were discussing the options, as they do with all money that is spent on behalf of the city. Shakespeare suggested giving the two percent cost of living increase and returning the other excess funds back to the enterprise funds.
Mayor Allen said the money had been budgeted for employee expense, which is what a cost of living increase would be.
In addition, the council found that a $15,000 payment into the fire truck PTIF had not been listed in the budget. The payment will be taken from remaining money saved from the mechanic position change.
Other changes to the budget included a $40,000 reduction to airport expenses, $3,000 loan payment added to airport expenses, a $60,000 capitol project budget revenue and a $49,000 increase to the airport capital projects budget.
Councilman Scott Frost told the council it was a “no brainer”, in his opinion. “We figured out a way to give our employees a benefit. Let’s do it,” said Frost, before making the motion to approve the budget with the changes discussed.
Also included in the motion was a statement that any excess revenue balance in the general fund will be deducted from the administrative fee that is charged to the enterprise funds.
In other business, the council discussed a schedule for the swimming pool as it is nearing time to close for the winter.
Assistant City Manager Greg Westfall told the council they plan to keep the pool open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through September from 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. They will also remain open for rental during that time. Westfall stated they would be tracking use during this time, as the city may see no reason to keep the pool open later in the year if there is no public support.
A fee increase for the city recreation youth football program was approved by the council. The per player cost was increased from $60 to $75 and will help cover costs for the replacement and repair of helmets and other safety equipment as necessary.
The council received a public request to consider a crosswalk for the intersection of 200 West and Center Street, as it is a major crossing for many school children.
Mayor Allen and City Manager Pehrson agreed there is a need.