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Grandview Council begins tackling 2005 city budget

GRANDVIEW - Facing a budget shortfall of $190,000, Monday night Grandview City Council members rolled up their sleeves and got to work on the 2005 budget.

Council members took the time last night to wade their way through the budget figures for several city departments, including the fire, police, animal control, library and parks and recreation departments. Each department head talked to Council about the numbers in their budget and where costs have shifted from the 2004 budget for the 2005 budget year.

Grandview Police Chief Dave Charvet sat in front of Council to explain to them why the police department's budget is looking at an increase of about 9.6 percent over the 2004 budget. The total budget for the department for 2005 is sitting at $1,758,700. Charvet noted that most of the increase is accounted for with the rising cost of health care and increases in salaries.

Charvet said for the past several years he has been asked to create the police department's budget without making any increases. When looking forward to 2005, Charvet said he simply took the actual cost of things so far this year, averaged it out over 12 months and plugged those numbers into his budget, adding in the expected increases for salaries and health care costs.

"That's where I came up with the figures I have now," Charvet said.

He added that he also included $52,900 in his budget for capital items. Those items include the purchase of five tactical ballistic vests at a cost of $18,000, three computers at a cost of $5,000, four mobile computers for $16,000, a vehicle light bar for $1,500, three portable radios for $2,400, the remodeling of the dispatch counter for $4,500, four tasers for $3,500 and $2,000 for the replacement of the office carpet.

Grandview City Administrator Jim Sewell noted that if the county's criminal justice tax is passed by voters today it would mean an additional $162,000 a year in revenue to be used for the police department.

"It's revenue that can be spent on new programs," Sewell said.

Council discussed whether or not those funds could be used to cover the costs of some of the capital improvements Charvet included in his budget.

There were also several places in Charvet's budget where costs are expected to go down in 2005. For example, in 2004 Charvet budgeted $10,000 for communications. In 2005, that number drops to $4,000. According to Charvet, that was a place he might have overestimated costs for this year, noting that he simply took actual costs from this year to come up with numbers for 2005.

City Treasurer John Myers noted that another place dollar amounts are less is in the area of vehicles. He noted that this year there were a number of vehicles that fully depreciated. He noted that this does mean that in 2006 those numbers will likely go back up when new vehicles are purchased.

Councilman Rick McLean pointed to Charvet's estimate when in it comes to overtime costs at the police department, noting that Charvet included $79,000 in the 2005 budget for overtime. He asked Charvet what the average salary of an officer is, and if it would be more cost effective to hire another officer instead of paying the overtime costs. Charvet said despite the addition of another officer the department would likely still have high overtime costs because of the time necessary to take care of things like writing out reports and doing all of the paperwork that needs to be completed.

Charvet then talked about the animal control budget for 2005, which stands at $47,400. Charvet said the budget is about the same as it was in 2004. He explained that the city's animal control officer spends about 50 percent of his time taking care of his animal control duties and the rest of his time working for the police department. This means only half of his salary comes out of the animal control budget.

When it comes to the fire department's budget, Grandview Fire Chief Charles Damron did some shuffling of dollars to make the most of the EMS funds the city receives on an annual basis.

The shuffling of figures is what led Damron to actually lowering the fire suppression budget for 2004 from $112,240 this year to $103,520 in 2005. On the other hand, the city's budget for emergency medical services went up from $76,700 in 2004 to $105,520 in 2005. Damron and Myers explained the EMS funds he will be using are currently sitting in reserve and can only be used for emergency medical services.

Damron added that he made the changes in the budget, shifting more funds to the EMS side of the budget because of the ratio of calls the department has been receiving. He noted that an estimated 75 percent of the calls the department responds to are medical calls, with the remaining 25 percent of calls being fire related.

"It makes sense to move the money to EMS from fire suppression," Damron explained to Council.

One cost council was concerned about was in the cost of insuring the fire department vehicles. City Clerk Anita Palacios noted that in 2005, the large jump in insurance costs is due to the addition of the new pumper truck. She noted that is costs an additional $2,800 a year to insure the vehicle. She also explained that the city's deductibles are already sitting at $5,000 per vehicle, up from $1,000 just several years ago.

Another area Council members asked Damron about was in the category of uniforms and clothing, noting that under EMS the city budget no funds this year and $5,000 for 2005. Damron explained that this was one of the categories where he took the expenses out of the fire suppression category and placed them into the EMS budget. He pointed out that he did the same thing when it came to small tools and equipment, adding another $5,000 to the EMS budget for 2005.

Sewell noted that the shift of funds reflects the city's shift from a fire department to an emergency response department.

The library is another area where the budget for 2005 is seeing an increase over the budget for 2004. In 2005, the estimated budget is sitting at $203,430, compared to $185,490 in 2004.

What is accounting for that increase is the additional costs the library has budgeted for capital improvements. Ken Little and Jack Mariotti, representing the library, noted that the increased capital expenditures come from a recommendation from Council to begin setting money aside to take care of the big ticket improvements that need to be made at the facility. Included in the budget is $5,000 to be set aside for the next five years for new carpeting, $5,000 to be set aside for the next five years for the replacement of the heating and air conditioning system, and $750 to be set aside for the replacement of computers. The remaining $17,010 in capital improvements is earmarked for the acquisition of books and other media.

Little explained that the $750 for the replacement of computers is something the city has to do in accordance with funds it receives through a Gates grant for the original purchase of the computer equipment. He noted that the grant required the city to replace the computers in five years.

Mariotti mentioned that the library board is already scared to death that the building's heating and air conditioning system could go at any moment. But Little noted that the library has to start somewhere as far as putting money away to make the repairs.

It was while looking at the expensive capital repairs that need to be made at the library that Mayor Mike Bren asked what Council members would think about taking the voter approved one and a half percent utility tax back to the voters. He said the Council could ask voters to extend the utility tax one more year, using those funds to make all of the necessary capital improvements, including new carpet in the library and ballistic vests for the police department.

Councilwoman Pam Horner noted that improvements paid for with the extension of the utility tax would be improvements that would last for years.

"We're taking big hits and I have to look at cutting programs and cutting people," Bren said. "But we have these capital expenses."

Then the Council turned its attention of the parks and recreation department budget, which is currently sitting at $490,830 for 2005, not including the cost of the senior center or the museum. Sewell noted that the parks and recreation budget is up $10,000 over last year.

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Carpenter noted that he also has several capital improvements that needed to be looked at, but that he didn't include them in his budget because of the situation he knew the city would be in.

He noted that those improvements include resurfacing the rest of the Dykstra Park pathway at an estimated cost of $18,000, $17,000 for the resurfacing of the tennis courts and $5,000 for the completion of the comprehensive six-year parks and recreation plan, which is required for many grant applications.

Grandview City Council will meet to work on the budget again Monday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. in the city council chambers. After looking at budgets prepared by the different department heads, the city will begin looking at ways to balance the 2005 budget.

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