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Council approves budget for 2018

By Staff, 01/23/18 1:15 PM

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PRESCOTT – Prescott’s City Council passed a budget for 2018 at its January meeting Monday night.

This is nothing unusual. However, the budget was approved with no meeting of the budget committee and prior discussion of the budget by the council prior to Monday night’s meeting. There was, in fact, little discussion of the actual budget during the meeting, as members of the council focused more on how the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office appears to control the city’s sales tax.

The discussion began with Councilman Tommy Poole saying he didn’t think the EDO should be in charge of the sale tax money and how its spent.

Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver spoke up, telling the panel he provides input on the spending, as does the budget committee and department heads.

Councilman Bobbie Brown said the problem is with the “grey area”. “I talked with Mary Godwin (executive director of the EDO). She oversees it and takes care of these items.” Brown added if Godwin doesn’t handle projects such as beautification, who would.

Godwin told the council in the past this was the purpose of the budget and the council was to look over it and decide how the money should be spent. She said she doesn’t simply decide to spend the money, and Brad Crain, with Dalrymple-Crain Accounting, and others are involved in the process as well. “It’s a collaboration.”

Crain spoke up telling the council if it didn’t like the budget, it needed to suggest other things.

“I think anything spent out of the tax money needs to come before the council,” Poole said.

Glenn Vasser, city attorney, said the council has the authority to single out things from the budget and can make line item changes, if desired.

The council, Crain said, agrees what to do with the money as this is the council’s budget and it’s up to the council to understand what’s behind each item. He pointed out the budget isn’t specific with exact amounts and there are special things not budgeted – largely because they’re unexpected, but are to be considered by the council.

Oliver told the council the mayor can spend up to $20,000 without council approval. Godwin said the EDO can spend up to $3,000 without approval.

This is the way the budget has been done with previous EDO directors, Godwin said. She reminded the council there was a time when people came before the council monthly and bills were brought to the city after purchases were made. This, she continued, required the budget to be revised constantly. “A lot of project overlap with the EDO. It’s a collaboration. I called all of you to talk about it.”

Crain stepped in telling the panel a lot of times sales tax money is budgeted but not spend, adding these funds help operate the city when it’s short and is the one area most closely monitored. He said the budget is nothing more than a guide and if the council has other alternatives, it can be amended.

The sticking point, Brown said, is the EDO wearing several hats. Someone needs to look over the various projects, such as keeping city property mowed.

Godwin agreed she’s spread thin, but said she does deal with industry. Recently, she told the council, the EDO board agreed to have Tammi Rose do community development for the EDO, which would free Godwin up to do more. Rose, she continued, has taken on more of a leadership role in the EDO and will be doing even more with the Chamber office moving. A planning session was held, she said, to make up a list of people who may be willing to help on some projects, such as Christmas ornaments.

Talk covered several topics, ranging from keeping the roads around the truck stops in good shape as the truck stops bring in around 50 percent of the sales tax money; proposed renovation of the former Nevada County Health Unit building as the office for a new dentist in town, as well as working with local industry, trying to meet its needs. Godwin said her office sells the local workforce in a 12 county region and certain skill sets are needed by students graduating from high school. This, she continued, is one reason the Prescott School District is partnering with the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana. “I go to the mayor with everything. My name and reputation are heavily involved with this.”

Godwin and the council agreed better communication is required on both sides. She said her office is open and any councilman is welcome to visit or call anytime.

In the end, the council approved the budget with a 6-2 vote, with Poole and Stacy Jester casting the no votes.

According to the budget, the projected surplus for 2018 is $8,471. The electric department brings in the most money and is projected to bring in $9,062,399, with expenses of $7,662,400, leaving a surplus of $1.4 million. The water department, water and river plants have a projected deficit of $89,164, after revenues of $610,545, while the sewer department’s deficit is projected to be $40,528 after revenues of $372,326. The projected deficit for the general administration – utility is $240,355, with the city shop expected to be in the hole $52,072. The shop generates no income. Revenues from rural water are projected to be $294,608, with expenses of $302,271, leaving a deficit of $7,662. The Prescott Fire Department, generating no revenue, has projected expenses of $159,770, while the Prescott Police Department is expected to generate $87,877 in revenue, with expenses of $676,932, leaving a deficit of $589,055. The cemetery is expected to generate $6,769, with expenses of $5,383, leaving a surplus of $1,386, while the sanitation department is expected to generate $2,016, with expenses of $234,175, leaving a shortfall of $232,156. Municipal court is expected to generate nothing, with expenses of $55,579. The city’s general administrative budget is anticipating revenue of $1,189,967 with expenses of $1,115,227, leaving a surplus of $74,740. Garbage collection and general shop have a projected income of $521,130 and expenses of $294,918, leaving a surplus of $226,211. The shop general budget has an anticipated deficit of $49,978. The street department and general shop budget has project income of $263,775 and projected expenses of $40,322, leaving a deficit of $176,547.

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