Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Council strips EDO of sales tax monies

By Staff, 07/17/18 9:28 AM

PRESCOTT – As of Jan. 1, 2019, the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office will no longer have access to Prescott sales tax money.

The July meeting of the Prescott City Council Monday evening opened with the first half hour dedicated to the EDO’s spending the tax money, and the spending being done by someone who isn’t a city employee. No one complained about the money being used for downtown development or beautification, but how there has been no oversite on how the money was spent. Concerns were also voiced about sales tax money being used to provide insurance for the EDO assistant, as well as paying her dues to the Kiwanis Club, along with cell phone bills.

Councilman Tommy Poole asked if the council could change this saying he has a problem with it as it’s someone not employed by the city and not answerable to anyone spending the tax money.

Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver pointed out the EDO is under budget at this time.

Poole said the city gives the EDO $45,000 a year. It was mentioned the Nevada County Quorum Court provided an additional $25,000 annually for the EDO. Carl Dalrymple, city accountant, said the $45,000 goes to pay Mary Godwin’s, EDO director, salary, and all other funds come from the sales tax. Dalrymple continued saying the council can change anything it wants to, adding the EDO operates under the sales tax budget.

Poole said he didn’t think the EDO should be spending sales tax money and has had problems with this since day one.

Dalrymple said the council approved the EDO budget when it approved the city’s budget. The budget had specific amounts for the EDO, beautification and economic development.

Councilman Stacy Jester added downtown development is also operated out of the EDO office.

Poole moved the EDO no longer be able to spend sales tax money, later amending this to start as of Jan. 1, 2019. “A lot of money was spent on stuff it shouldn’t be spent on,” he said. “I feel the EDO should focus on industrial recruitment.” Councilman Susie Meeks seconded Poole’s motion.

Dalrymple asked how the council wanted to allocate these expenses so his office would know where and how the money is spent. Oliver said if these duties fell on him he’d need more money.

Councilman Jerry Hightower said the what the EDO is in charge of needs to be revamped and constraint is needed.

Councilman Bobbie Brown said she had no problem with what the money was spent on, but did have issue with sales tax money being used to provide employee benefits.

Dalrymple pointed out the council will be required to meet more often when it comes to paying the bills because a lot of the bills are due before scheduled council meetings. He added a lot of the problem could be solved with a more detailed budget.

When it came time to vote on the issue, Councilman Howard Austin, instead of saying yea or nay, started talking about who would be responsible for paying the bills, et al, and eventually voted yes. The vote was 7-0 with Hightower passing, or abstaining.

Meeks questioned write offs as the next order of business. Dalrymple said a lot of those accounts should have been written off before now and these have been removed from the city’s accounts receivable. Larry Jones, electric department overseer, told Meeks these were accounts from dead people and there was no way the city could ever collect. He added there will be more like this and they will appear on a monthly basis.

Dalrymple added there is a large amount from hot checks, with the largest being around $1,500 from Izzy’s. These accounts will be turned over to a collection agency. He pointed out if a business is on the list and owes sales tax, another business can’t open at that location until the sales tax has been paid as the sales tax debt remains with the location.

The vote on financials was 7-1 with Meeks casting the lone no vote.

A resolution for an interlocal agreement was approved for Bemis Field at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. The agreement is between the city and Nevada County Fair Association, and specifies the city will be responsible for upkeep at Bemis Field in return for using it for recreational purposes.

Robbie Franks was hired as the city’s new Code Enforcement Officer. Oliver pointed out there were 97 applications for the position, and thanked the hiring committee for its efforts.

He was asked what his goals for the job were. Franks said he wants to get the ball rolling on enforcing codes and issuing citations, along with liens on property as well as working on places certified to the state. However, it was pointed out the council must approve an ordinance allowing the Code Enforcement Officer to be allowed to write tickets. This can’t be done until City Attorney Glenn Vasser gets back from vacation.

Franks said the situation has gotten embarrassing, and is out of hand, but he will work to start getting things cleaned up. Without the authority to issue citations, he added, it is impossible to get people to do anything, and they need to be held responsible. Otherwise, he continued, the city’s just wasting its time and money. He agreed to provide monthly reports as to what the office is doing.