L'ville councilmen discuss finances

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Town Crier News Staff

Leachville aldermen selected Bruce Wilson to preside over the Nov. 20 council meeting in the absence of Mayor Ralph Wells.

The council held a lengthy discussion involving the 2007 proposed budget. "We need to look at the expenses versus income to see where we are currently," Wilson said. "Our municipal budget is a guideline, but not a guarantee for next year's expenses and income. The LIDC has set aside $30,000 if we need it. We have to look out to employees and pay back of taxes.  "We can't control our income but we can control our expenses. We can't do anything about our fixed overhead this year, but if we are to control it next year, we have to examine the records, and see where cuts can be made."

"The police car is O.K. for next year," City Clerk Ruth Ann Keith said. "The Street Department needs a new bush hog, and we may need new tires."

"We are going to need a new fire truck in the next few years," Wilson said. "We have to plan for the future in order to keep our insurance rates down. Our last truck was bought in 1996. They usually last 10 years."

"We want to apply for grants," said Fire Chief Richie Pace. "The first thing they ask us on the application is if we owe any federal money."

"We have to control city expenses," Wilson said. "If this was a household, we could take another job to help out. This is a city and we can't do that. With an inventory on our equipment, if we don't use it, then get rid of it."

"We need to move some of our money into C.D.s from the general fund to a tax fund, so it can be gaining interest," said Alderman Bill Hetler. "We are not spending this money if it is in a C.D, as it is still there."

"It will have to be put in a General Fund account, not in a tax fund account, according to our auditors," Keith said.

Excess funds from the General Fund will be moved to C.D., divided equally between the two Leachville banks, for 12 months, if highest interest rates apply. A total of $50,000 will be left in General Fund Account.

The council talked about increases in 2007 employee insurance. The decision to increase insurance portion of the budget was tabled.

The council passed the proposed 2007 budget.

A recommendation from the tax offer review meeting of Oct. 12 was set at $106,000. The council approved the recommendation for the IRS offer. Keith agreed to type and present the decision to City Attorney Mike Bearden. A working meeting is planned for Nov. 27, to set Christmas bonus amounts, raises, and other necessary budget item changes.

Keith reviewed the October Police Department report as submitted by Police Chief Ken Womack. A total of 158 contacts were made, 87 citations, six felony arrests, General Fund collections of $10,174, celebration of Red Ribbon Week at BIC East Elementary, and no persons incarcerated at the Mississippi County Jail.

October report from the Volunteer Fire Department and First Response Team included 10 First Response calls, two fire calls, clutch repaired on Engine #2, cleaned gutters at fire station, winterized station, and continued training and work outs with fire department and First Responders. Monthly financial report and activities totaled $54,669.84. The reports were prepared by Teresa Johnson, secretary/treasurer.

Keith reported that city bank account balances totaled $106,687.37, as of Nov. 18.

The Leachville Christmas parade was set for Friday, Dec. 8, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The line- up will begin at 5 p.m. at the BIC East Elementary. An open house will be held after the parade at the Melody Theater downtown. Free pictures with Santa will be included. Karen Wallace is the parade chairman.

The council voted to allocate a maximum of $200 for parade expenses, with an effort being made to secure funding from other donations.

Alderman Anna Beth Thomas proposed the council complete work on the city employee handbook by the end of the year.

"We have worked on this handbook for a couple of years," Thomas said. "I think they worked on it two years before that. It is time we get this done.

"I hope to have it completed by the December meeting," City Clerk Keith said.

Marilyn Looney reported on Pre-K openings and Leachville Migrant program.

Members in the audience reported on back-up problems with pumping station. City sewer department employees agreed to check city pumps twice daily to alleviate the problem.

Bobby Woods addressed the council about his effort to comply with city ordinance concerning collection of scrap iron and special items on his personal property. He was reminded by the council that he had to meet ordinance requirements.

The council asked Keith to get the monthly payment of retirement salary in writing from the Municipal League, before official payment to outgoing Mayor Ralph Wells begins in January 2007.

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