City council approves cost-saving items
In light of the tough economic times, the Baldwin City Council tightened the city’s budget belt during a meeting Wednesday.
Among the moves, council members voted to do away with the $40 per month stipend they receive. Mayor Gary Walbridge did not to do the same with his $300 per month stipend.
“The city council recognized the additional duties of the mayor and I accepted their reasoning in addition to who knows who will be the next mayor,” said Walbridge, who is running for re-election against Ken Wagner and George McCrary. “This happened back in 1990 I believe when an outgoing council member made the motion to do away with the stipend for all including the mayor.
“A few meetings later the council voted to return the mayor’s stipend as it was recognized then that the mayor has added responsibilities, especially in the event of a natural disaster and statutoral duties and responsibilities come into play,” he said.
The council had to meet Wednesday at a special time because there wasn’t a quorum of four council members at Monday’s scheduled time. City Administrator Jeff Dingman gave the council the recommendations from the finance committee which reviewed the budget.
The council made motion and voted to approve:
1. Defer buying a police car at this time.
2. Suspend council stipends for fiscal year 2009.
3. Pay off the two pieces of equipment.
“Everything else they ‘generally accepted’ as concurring with the finance committee recommendations and giving direction to staff, but did not make a motion or take a specific action on them,” said Dingman.
The finance committee’s recommendations and Dingman’s comments were:
1. Suspend some capital expenditures until further notice. We did not budget many capital expenditures for 2009. One police cruiser, 2 desktop terminals in city hall, and some network/software upgrades. The action item at the meeting on the purchase of the police cruiser failed, with the recommendation that we re-visit it toward the end of the budget year. We will proceed with replacing the two desktop terminals, and we will defer about $26,000 from the IT budget on the network equipment and software upgrades. We still need to plan for these upgrades, but it is not imperative that we do them this year.
2. Suspend much of the budgeted travel/training for staff, particularly if it involves air travel and overnight accommodations. Also evaluate any proposed expenditures for local training on a case by case basis. The council emphasized taking advantage of in-state and free training as much as possible to acquire required continuing education credits (most departments already do this).
3. Leave the two vacant full-time positions (fire chief and police officer) unfilled until further notice.
4. Support an approximately 8 percent reduction in general fund expenditures. It's not an across-the board reduction, but a refined estimate of actual 2009 expenditures with an overall effect of an 8 percent reduction.
5. The council voted to suspend their monthly stipend of $40 per council member for the FY2009.
6. The council approved early payoff of two equipment lease-purchases in order to avoid further interest charges. We will pay off the 1998 Pierce fire truck, and the 2006 Freightliner dump truck, at about $34,000 each. We will use unobligated cash from the general fund, and this action will save about $6500 in interest charges. The only piece of equipment we have will then have financed is the 2003 Kenworth fire truck.