Tuesday night, the Stanford City Council was split evenly over whether or not to approve a budget proposed by Mayor Bill Miracle that included $5,000 of funding to support further construction for the Logan’s Fort project.
Miracle came to the meeting armed with two budgets that had passed a first reading just the night before, one that included money for the fort and one that did not. Originally, $10,000 had been proposed for the fort, but Miracle had to reduce that amount by half to garner enough support to get the budget passed the first reading.
Miracle presented the budget with fort funds first and a motion was made by Eddie Carter to accept it. Bobbie Wilkinson seconded it.
The mayor asked City Clerk Denise Pike for a roll-call vote and Carter, Wilkinson and Mike Southerland voted yes. Councilmen Greg Findling, Scott Maples and Scottie Ernst voted no, but Ernst went on the record to say he was not voting “no” because of the fort. “I support the fort, but there are two other items in the budget that are causing me to vote no,” Ernst said.
With the council split 3-3, Miracle cast the final yes vote that approved the budget to a loud round of applause from the 16 citizens who came out to support the fort project funding.
Oddly, Southerland was a swing vote; he had been prepared to vote against funding the fort but at Monday night’s special meeting, Ernst who voted against the budget convinced him to vote for it. When he cast his vote, Southerland said, “I’m changing my vote, we can’t go back and forth all week.”
After the meeting, Ernst said that the two items that he felt were out of line both had to do with personnel. Ernst said that he felt that the city didn't not need the recently created part-time administrative position in the City Clerk’s Office and that the city’s new Arts Program Director Bob Swett’s total compensation was too high for someone in their first year on the job. In addition to a base salary of $22,800 there is additional compensation of almost $12,000.
Before the meeting concluded, several members of the fort committee rose to thank the council for their support. Irene Jaggers said that she hoped that the council wouldn’t view her committees project as the groups project. “It’s not our project, it’s your project, it’s on your property,” Jaggers said.
Funding for the fort was made possible because the city is in much better financial shape than it was a year ago when the council was in a position where they would have to borrow money to balance the books. This year the city has projected a total of $1,814,217 in revenue, more than half of which will come from the occupational tax and insurance premium tax.
On the other side of the ledger, the city plans to spend a total of $1,785,288 leaving a carry-over balance of almost $97,000 which is almost $30,000 more than the carried over in the current year when the city’s accountant warned that he would like to see more money in the rainy day fund.
Among the biggest expenses in this year’s budget is $573,617 to operate the city’s police department and $165,102 to operate the fire department. General administrative expenses are expected to be a little over a half-million dollars.