Josh Morgan, assistant city engineer, continues to return to the drawing board after each presentation to bring back alternatives. This week, he was asked to come back with more precise ideas for commissioners concerning the amount they can expect to be asked to increase the monthly fee in order to pay for the minor yet urgent improvements.
The commission also just gave the go-ahead to the steering facilities committee to start preparations to construct a city hall addition, estimated to cost $5.45 million. Although bonding negotiations haven't begun, critics of the move say the city is biting off more than it can chew, and those same critics are chomping at the bit to see the first sign of raised taxes so they can wave the red flag.
The city commission has stood firmly behind the idea and assertion that basic services and fees will not be increased to pay for the expansion project.
Possibly the most dreaded part of the budget process for the commission is deciding who gets what - rationing out the community agency allocations. Out of 20 listed agencies, all but two showed up last week to have a brief moment in the spotlight explaining why it needed more, or at least the same, money received last year.
Two separate meetings were set aside to hear out agencies, and the commission met again in a workshop to discuss what it had heard. Nearly $482,000 had been bookmarked out of the budget to be split among all agencies.
Aside from Parks and Recreation and the Economic Development Partnership, the Senior Citizens Center received the highest allocation at $64,000, and was the only agency of those seeking more substantial funding to receive the amount it asked for.
After haggling with one another, the commission was left with $1,375, and decided the money would be added to the contingency fund. Jackie Sims, director of the Senior Citizens Center, who already had given her agency presentation on another date but was present at the workshop, made a last minute vie for the funds.
"Can I ask a question?" Sims said. "The $1,500 or whatever, is that what you're under? I just found out yesterday that our meals are going to increase 13 cents ... and we put out 4,000 meals a year," Sims said.
"So far in our budget, seniors are the only one that got what was requested," Hamner reminded Sims.
"I know, I just wanted to make you all aware," Sims said.
Hamner smiled and replied "We're all in a pinch."
More budget discussions will be scheduled before two public readings are held on the final, accepted plan.
So You Know
City Manager Paul Stansbury explains how $381,000 can be devoted to pay off city hall expansion project:
$200,000 - City commission began allocating this amount for the future project in 2007-08 budget
$150,00 - roughly will remain after various fees are paid
$117,000 - remains after paying half the current costs of the federally mandated stormwater improvement project
$317,000 - after adding in $200,000 of the earmarked project funds from the 2008-09 budget
$381,000 - after adding in roughly $64,000 the city is annually reimbursed by utility department (for salaries, retirement, overhead paid by the city)
Stansbury said he feels the commission may be able to have the debt financed at around $328,000 annually.