~ by Bob Volpe ~
Last Wednesday, the city council met in a special workshop format in an effort to craft a compromise on 2018 budget concerns raised by several elected leaders and citizens.
Council went over many concerns point by point, and reached consensus on several issues. On the issue of employee raises, they reached a consensus that a 3 percent raise, based on a pay per performance scale, was appropriate. However, there was some discontent with this idea.
Councilman Val Carr stuck to his guns, opting for no raises for city employees in this year’s
budget. Under the pay-per-performance format, an employee’s raise will be anywhere from zero to 3 percent. The 3 percent is the maximum raise an employee could receive under the new budget.
Security cameras around town were next on the agenda. Consensus was reached on where new security cameras would be placed and the money budgeted for them was approved.
Council also agreed to loosen its purse strings for one more police officer, and to talk again in January or February when a salary survey and police employee survey is completed.
The special project department has been a controversial subject, with several council members wanting to eliminate this agency. In its place, those jobs will be handled by City manager David Buttery.
The issue on whether or not to continue to fund Main Street will be addressed at the next regular meeting of council on November 16th at 7 p.m. This will allow Main Street the opportunity to present council with their status.
Next topic was IT staffing. The budget allows for hiring one IT specialist to handle the web site, cameras, network, and evaluate the conditions and needs of the city’s internet presence.
According to the city’s Finance Director/Treasurer Mike Farina, the $66,000 budgeted for an IT position is less than the $70,000 the city would expect to pay Peak Internet for services related to the city’s IT infrastructure. The goal here is to make this position as budget neutral as possible. No concrete decision was agreed upon but it was agreed that the position is needed. Consensus was leaning toward approval.
Street projects was next at bat. Councilman Paul Saunier suggested street projects should be done on a five-year plan and three competitive bids should be reviewed for these projects. Buttery explained that, except for Park Street, the rest of the street projects are small and much of the design and planning can be done in-house.
The objective with the smaller projects is to get them done within one year. Buttery agreed that having a five-year plan for street projects was appropriate and that the city is working toward that goal.
Next arguments were given for and against keeping a part-time employee at the Ute Pass Cultural Center. Arguments for keeping the employee insisted the employee does a lot of work and shifting the responsibility to others is a burden, and would lead to diminished services. Arguments against this claimed the Center’s full time employee could do the necessary work. Consensus, though, is leaning toward keeping the part time person.
The meeting was adjourned with mixed reviews. Many questions were answered and the budget proposals are now clearer in the minds of council members.
The next workshop will be held November 14th at 6pm in city council chambers. The major issue to be hashed out will be the vehicle use issue. Several council members have favored the city reducing its current fleet to save costs.
But city officials have questioned the merits of this plan.