Local News: City Council fields FY budget requests (3/3/21)

City Department heads presented budget requests for fiscal year 2021-22 at Tuesday’s City Council Budget Workshop.

Dave Ellis, Recreation Director, reviewed his budget requests for Recreation, Community Center, and Swimming Pool. He stated there are no major changes from the current year’s budget and he has been able to lower some line item requests. Council member Chad Brown asked Ellis to check on equipment needs for the swimming pool as soon as possible due to shipping delays for many products.

Tyler Hahn, Library Director, explained his budget request which includes funding to replace the current HVAC system. The system, installed and maintained by Control System Specialists, Alta IA, is about 24 years old and is down to one boiler and one pump that are operational. Sometimes it is hard to get the temperature in the library above the 55-65 degree range. Repairs have been frequent and annual maintenance costs are expensive and we are charged for every service visit in addition to the annual maintenance cost.

Hahn has obtained a quote from Modern Heating of Cherokee at a cost of approximately $130,000 to replace the system. Denny’s Service declined to submit a quote.

Hahn is working with the City of Larrabee to finalize a formal 28E agreement for library service, and is also working with the Cherokee Area Archives to implement a formal agreement. Brown asked if there is any other large building repair projects looming for the library and Hahn replied that there will be tuckpointing needed in the future.

Nate James, Police Chief, is requesting funding for three new car radios and replacing a vehicle. He advises keeping the same rotation of replacing the oldest vehicle every three years to insure a good trade-in value. He stated the new vehicle will be either a Ford or Dodge truck, as he can no longer get an SUV (Police equipped). He mentioned the shortage of ammo, with delivery of additional ammo expected to be 6-12 months out.

Greg Eaton, Fire Chief, reviewed the fire and building inspection budgets with no major new expenses projected. Both budgets are the same or less requested than the current year.

City Hall proposed budget includes $28,000 for resurfacing the north half of the parking lot including changes to make the building entrance ADA compliant.

The Council agreed to budget a $100,000 funding request from the Cherokee Trails Committee for the Magnetic Park Trail in order to get the entire project completed. It was decided 50% of the request will be funded from the Hotel/Motel Tax budget and the remaining 50% will be funded from Emergency Set-Aside budget.

Jamie Hodgdon, Cemetery Sexton, requested funding to replace a 1994 dump truck as well as two JD mowers. He would like to start putting funds aside for the construction of a columbarium for cremains. He stated that cremations are increasing and would offer another option for cremains rather than taking a full burial space. He has visited with both local funeral homes about this and Boothby Funeral Home is interested corroborating with the City on this project, which is estimated to cost around $30,000. Hodgdon is requesting earmarking $10,000 in the FY22 budget toward the cost.

Duane Mummert, Parks Superintendent, included funds for sealcoating a portion of the roadway in Spring Lake Park and replacing a mower and a JD tractor in his budget request.

Armond Rider, Public Works Director, reported on Streets, Water and Wastewater budget requests. Proposed funding for the Street Dept. includes replacing the street sweeper at a cost of $210,000. After discussion, the Council decided to remove this request and keep the current sweeper. Rider has budgeted for the removal of some ash trees due to emerald ash borer. Other budget line items show no significant change over FY21 request.

Local Option Sales Tax budget includes $21,000 for a new traffic controller at Willow St. (the final one to be replaced), $50,000 for chip seals and $200,000 for milling and overlay work planned for portions of Park Ave. and Craig Dr., along with funding a portion of the Euclid St. Project and Willow St. Bridge Project.

Water Dept. proposed budget includes $45,000 for pulling a high service pump for repair and $32,250 for the purchase of a hydrovac truck, total cost estimated at $64,500. The cost will be split between the water and sewer funds as both departments will use it. This item could be partially funded from the industrial water fund and that fund then closed out.

Brown suggested the hydrovac be funded from the sewer system maintenance and storm sewer maintenance funds. Rider included $15,000 in Water Dept. budget for capping well #1 as it is no longer needed.

The Wastewater Department budget request includes funds to get the boilers replaced in the treatment plant. The existing boilers were installed in 1976 and are 60% efficient. Also included are funds to rebuild a couple of sump pumps and replace a 2013 Ford truck.

The Council will review the current fee schedule for possible revisions. It has not been revised since January, 2018.

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