Archive for Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mill levy decreases slightly

August 7, 2008

Baldwin City's mill levy will go down - ever so slightly - for next year, but even with that good news, all city council members didn't end up supporting the budget at Monday's meeting.

The budget for fiscal year 2009 will be $16,161,996 with the general fund accounting for $2,175,002. The mill levy for 2009 will be 31.423, compared to last year's 32.354, a reduction of 0.931 of a mill.

After discussion during the last year when council members were worried about a mill levy jump, possibly big, it seemed like good news. It was, but half the council still wanted more.

Council Member Ken Wagner amended the motion to accept the proposed budget to include moving the salary money for a position in the codes enforcement department to asphalt work and curb and guttering. It passed 3-2, with Wagner and Council Members Ted Brecheisen, Jr., and Doyle Jardon voting for it. Council President Amy Cleavinger and Councilman Tony Brown voted against.

"I'm comfortable with the mill levy," said Wagner, noting that his amendment didn't change it or the budget.

"I am, too," said Brecheisen. "I'm just concerned with the economy we are in and is going to last for two or three more years, I think we need to watch where we're spending money."

That brought quite a discussion and almost brought a hiring freeze for the year.

"We spent a lot of time talking about this in budget committee," said Cleavinger about the code's position. "There are vacancies elsewhere and maybe we need to look at those, too. We need to use this philosophy across the board."

"It would be fine if we draw the line on all positions," said Brecheisen.

City Administrator Jeff Dingman said the only two open positions were the code's position and the full-time fire chief, which has been a position the council has spent years bringing about.

"We'd put a hiring freeze in effect for next year?" said Brecheisen. "I'd be all for that."

The motion was not amended to include a hiring freeze and, eventually, gained the 3-2 passing. But, the evening discussion wasn't over yet.

The council approved unanimously to spend $21,320 for a half-ton truck for the sewer department. Brecheisen objected to spending $14,678 for an animal control vehicle.

"They need to make do with what they have," said Brecheisen. "We need to save money where we can."

To that point, Brown had been fairly quiet regarding the discussions. That ended.

"I have two responses to the issues you have raised regarding the purchase of the animal control vehicle," said Brown. "The first is that it seems to me that every time a resolution to purchase a new vehicle comes before us, you question whether it is a necessary expense, even though the purchases have been approved in the city budget.

"So, we end up discussing each vehicle purchase twice - once during the budgeting process and then again when each purchase is approved," he said. "I believe that the appropriate time to have these discussion is during the budgeting process when we are making financial plans for the coming year. And I think it is disingenuous to approve vehicle purchases in the budgeting process and then take back those decisions when the time comes to pay for the vehicles."

The city has adopted over the past six years a plan to replace vehicles on a timely basis, rather than when they're falling apart as was done in the past. It still brings a response from Brecheisen who was the lone vote against the animal control vehicle. And, Brown wasn't done.

"A second response is to your statement that the city needs to save money wherever we can," said Brown. "I understand your position that we are spending the public's money and I agree that we have to be careful in how we do that. But I also believe that we have to balance our fiscal concern with responsibility to provide services to people in Baldwin City.

"If all we want to do is save money, there are a lot of places in the budget to do that," he said. "But I think we would do so at the cost of reducing services I think Baldwin residents deserve."

That brought a comment from Mayor Gary Walbridge.

"Very well said, Tony," said Walbridge.


NanCrisp 9 years, 8 months ago

"make due"

The misuse of the word "due" in this phrase is becoming all too common. The correct colloquialism is to "make do," which is to "do" with what one has. The word "due" indicates a debt to be paid.

On the other hand, our city council seems to enjoy having the taxpayers of B.C. "make due" as in having us ante up continuously for items we supposedly "deserve." I wonder how many Baldwinites feel the necessity to pay for a new animal control vehicle at this time?

Perhaps our council members should pay more attention to the fact that at least 100 homeowners are quite interested in moving out of B.C. at this time. Perhaps the spendthrifty attitudes of our city government contribute greatly to that desire. Perhaps a bit of cutting back is quite in order. Thank you, Ted, for putting the brakes on the rubber stamp this time.

As for the disingenuity of changing budgeting decisions when purchase time comes around, that is a fiscally responsible action in a recession economy. In your household budget, you may plan to purchase a new vehicle next year but, when the time comes, you may not have the money. Or you may have only enough money to pay your utilities and not buy that vehicle. Would you buy the vehicle anyway, simply because you had previously "approved" the purchase? Or would you reconsider whether you might want to hold off and "make do," rather than go ahead and "make due?"


hdlady 9 years, 8 months ago

Do we really need to buy a new vehicle for a part-time position?


Torch 9 years, 8 months ago

I've found a kindred spirit in Nancrisp. Between the city and school district we're getting crushed.

The bad news for the 100 families wanting to leave BC is that because of the economy, poor housing sales, etc they're essentially held hostage here.

There's way too much of the 'deserve' attitude in this town. A 10,000 square foot 'Performing Arts Center'?!?!? LOL!

Lots of fun.


ibelieveinmapleleaf 9 years, 8 months ago

Kudos to Mr. Wagner for moving the unnecessary position from the Codes Enforcement division. With practically no building going on in this town there is absolutely no reason to have a second position for what the director could be doing. However, this would require that she actually leave the office, hop in a truck, and go do her job. It would also require the city administrator to actually expect some performance from his people. Since we know neither of these things is gonna happen, continuously cutting staff budgets is the only way to get control over an out-of-control situation.

Hiring freeze? I think we need to have some significant layoffs and get rid of the dead wood. We can then save the money and eventually hire competent city staff.

This city is dying.


NanCrisp 9 years, 8 months ago

I see Mr. Myrick has corrected his typo within the article.


123456 9 years, 8 months ago

The last time they bought a new animal control truck the animal control officer was pomoted to the police dept. then the truck sit for a year before someone relized the dog box would come off and they could put a flat bed on it and put it back into use.


123456 9 years, 8 months ago

Does the dog catcher really need a new truck just to ride around half a day talking on a cell phone and running stop signs? . Think about it.


123456 9 years, 8 months ago

Speaking of providing services, when are we going to get something for all of the money we spend for a police dept. After spending 1'8 million dollars down town it isn;t safe to be on foot down there because of people making left turns to park and running stop signs. How hard could it be for a police officer to walk over to the bank and look around the corner once in awhile? It's 140 steps from the police station to the bank, Well said Captain Kirk. Beam me up Scottie


123456 9 years, 8 months ago

It might be wise to hold off on hiring any new employees, they migh not have a job after the next election. Think about it.


123456 9 years, 8 months ago

Yes ibelieveinmapleleaf the city is dying, the current leaders have it in a strangle hold, but a new mayor and city council could give it CPR. Think about it,


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