Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Council discusses fire truck, other equipment, salaries; Bozarth agrees to line item for overtime

By Taylor Norberg
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Midway City Council debated the city’s salaries and money for equipment upgrades, such as a new fire truck and mower, on April 28 at its second workshop meeting to discuss Mayor Tom Bozarth’s proposed budget.
Council Member Bruce Southworth addressed concerns about salaries, a new fire truck and other equipment upgrades in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Among Southworth’s main concerns was overtime pay: “This year’s cemetery budget is for $61,517 in salaries; what we actually pay is $48,300 in salaries.  That’s $13,217 that go unnoticed.  Do we need that much extra in salaries?”

Southworth said when he was working for the city, the salaries never changed.  “In water, sewer streets cemetery and City Hall, there is $45,952 extra … That’s a lot of money to me.”

Bozarth said “It’s a cushion to use” if needed. City Clerk-Treasurer Phyllis Hudson said most of the overtime is incurred by the water department.

After discussion of some other budget items, Bozarth told Southworth that he and Hudson would put expected overtime expenses into a separate line item, “like you asked.”
Before that, Southworth brought up Bozarth’s request for a new fire truck to replace one that is 42 years old.  The other truck is 10 years old. Southworth questioned how many fires required both trucks. Bozarth replied, “Well, all it takes is one fire, Bruce.” 

The city’s 2013-14 budget contained a contingency of $205,958, which is a surplus of extra money carried forward to the next budget.  Bozarth made clear in the first council budget meeting his desire to use contingency money for a down payment and finance the rest through the state.

Council Member Grayson Vandegrift said the truck is a public safety issue. “We can do this now, we have some cash to put into it," he said. “It’s a good rate and we have the money.”

Council Member Sharon Turner, who like Vandegrift is running for mayor, agreed.  “I would hate to be the one who calls in [a fire] and that’s when they have an issue” with equipment, she said.  “It’s a public safety issue, like Grayson said.”

Bozarth asked city worker Terry Agee to discuss the need for equipment upgrades, such as a fourth mower.  Agee explained that they usually carry four mowers and the sewer plant keeps one.  The Bobcat residential mower that they have was going through too much wear and tear so they passed it on to the sewer plant.

The sewer plant already has a “grasshopper” mower which is old and not very useful anywhere.  Based on this information, the plan is to trade in or surplus the grasshopper and purchase a fourth mower.  “We really need that fourth mower,” Agee said. “We would have four and they would have one, the way it’s always been.”

The proposed 2014-15 cemetery budget contains a new $5,000 appropriation for a mower.  The proposed $15,700 for upgrades in parks, up from $3,000 in the current year, includes $7,500 for a mower upgrade.

Agee also explained the need for a new trailer for the mowers, which are serviced regularly in Lexington.  “We have these mowers on a program with Central Equipment where we take them up there at the end of the fall and it benefits us to have them serviced,” Agee explained. “With the trailer we have, we make three trips to Lexington every year with that.  If we got this new trailer, we could make it in one.”

The council agreed that it would be a beneficial upgrade. There is $2,500 in the proposed 2015 street budget specified for the trailer.

The proposed budget also specifies $4,889 to repair the street department’s leafbox. Southworth questioned that, but Agee said the bottom has significant rust.  Turner agreed: “You can see when it’s blowing leaves in and all the dust blows out.”

Council Member Daniel Roller added that there may be an intake problem.  “The way the intake is on that, the designer that they’re talking with now is talking about the technology has increased since they built that one.” 

Southworth suggested that if the leafbox is replaced, “scrap it. Get the money out of it.”

For more on the budget, see the next item.

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