Lime Springs City Council tackles budget cuts —Pool facing ADA compliancy problems, will be way over budget

by Marcie Klomp

Lime Springs City Council looked at budgets for the various entities under it, cut about 10 percent from each budget and is looking to raise water and sewer rates by 10 percent.

It took two budget workshops to come to the decision. The first was before the regular council meeting on Feb. 7 and the second at a workshop on Feb. 14.

Each of the five entities that are public-oriented (library, community center, pool, parks and fire department) gave Council a budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Although cuts were not as severe as last year, each department will still have to make decisions to cut their own budgets (see graph).

Before the budget workshop began, Mayor Barb Robinson reminded the Council and those present, “We have five entities. There’s been mistrust with all the entities and boards in the past. We are done with that. We are moving forward.”

She then gave Council a heads-up on some issues troubling the City. “I have a huge concern with the pool. If we have to be ADA-accessible (Americans with Disabilities Act), it is a problem. A lift chair could cost between $4,000-20,000. We might have to close the pool.”

Sandra Chilson is still looking into what exactly needs to be done at the pool to make it compliant.

Another concern is the library. “It is governed under a different set of rules,” Robinson emphasized. The library receives money from the city, county and state, “and each have their own rules and regulations.”

Jill Johnson explained the finances of the library. She said she tried to get specific answers to some questions and was passed from department to department with no clear answers forthcoming. So the information she gave was the best she could do.

It is hard for the library to cut hours and the number of books and magazines ordered. Money given to the library from the state and county depends on these numbers.

“For every one hour we close the library, it will mean $40.50 is cut from money we receive. Take out salary of $10.00 and that means we are losing $30. Also, for every $100 worth of books we don’t order, we lost $28 in funds,” Johnson said. For $100 in magazines, $18 is cut.

She added that Janet DeVries, Librarian, has gotten the library to Tier 3 for Enrich Iowa, which is the highest tier it can be at. This gives Lime Springs the most funding it can get.

Amidst all the gloom and doom of trying to cut budgets, Johnson gave the council a cheery thought. The library was able to underspend their budget by $10-13,000, which will go back into the general fund.

Councilman Kevin Bill noted that in the future, “I’d like to see them (entities) get an incentive to save the money.”

City Clerk Carla Moser agreed but pointed out the budgets should be as close to accurate as possible.

Some savings for the park include having volunteers mow the four areas—water tower, Brown Park, Kitchen Park and Pool and Ball Park. Jerry Robinson has agreed to mow the water tower.

Kevin Bill offered to mow Brown Park if someone else would pick up sticks and trim. Anyone else interested in helping the City with mowing should call City Hall. It may also work to have the new maintenance person do the mowing.

Savings for the various departments is insurance, as that does not have to be taken out of their budgets but is levied separately.

The City itself has its own issues, dealing mainly with water and sewer, which should be self-sustaining. As it is, water costs $42,000 to run, with income of $47,000, making it profitable. Sewer does not support itself as it costs $46,000 to run with income of $45,000, those numbers are just day-to-day expenses.

There needs to be a bigger margin of profit for both items as updates and maintenance of equipment needs to be factored into the budget. Council is looking at increasing both water and sewer rates by 10 percent. That is less than the 20 percent increase Cresco implemented last year.

One less expense for the City may be the cost of health insurance. When a new maintenance person is hired, he or she may or may not be offered paid health insurance.

The budget is printed on page

 

 

of the paper. A public hearing for approval of the budget is being held at the next regular meeting of the city council on March 6 at 7:00 p.m.

 

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