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Council discusses EDO utilities

By Staff, 08/21/18 9:53 AM

PRECOTT – What began as a simple question for information purposes turned into a 30-minute discussion at the August meeting of the Prescott City Council Monday night.

Councilman Tommy Poole asked why the city is paying utilities and internet, among other things, for the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Office, and why the EDO wasn’t paying these bills. From there it was off to the races.

Mary Godwin, EDO director, said the building is city owned and the EDO has an agreement with the city to provide what’s needed to operate the office. She added this was done before she became the EDO director.

Jamie Hillery, director of the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, spoke up saying when the Chamber was located in the office with the EDO the Chamber was required to pay the utility bills. She asked why the city didn’t pay the bills then, adding the Chamber still pays the utility bills at its current location.

She was asked how much the city provides the Chamber with and said $20,000, adding the county also gives some money, and recently increased the amount from $600 annually.

City Attorney Glenn Vasser said this was all the city agreed to do for the Chamber. However, there was no answer to Hillery’s question.

Poole asked if the $45,000 the city gives to the EDO couldn’t be used for office expenses.

Godwin said the city can’t give utilities away. She added former Mayor Howard Taylor gave the Chamber money to cover utilities when he was in office and when the Chamber and EDO joined together, the Chamber continued paying the utility bills. “It’s always been done that way.”

City Accountant Carl Dalrymple chimed in saying there is an interlocal agreement stating the city will provide office space and equipment for the EDO, but doesn’t say anything about providing utilities or phones.

Vasser said he didn’t know if the intent of the agreement was to include utilities or not as it’s been a “long time” since the agreement was made, but added, it’s been inferred utilities were included.

Councilman Jerry Hightower said the council needs to find the original agreement and see what it says before deciding what to do and make sure there’s no room for interpretations by putting it in plain English.

Vasser said an amendment would be required to the current agreement for this to be done.

Dalrymple added the utilities are paid with sales tax money.

Councilman Howard Austin said the council needs to determine what the $45,000 the city provides the EDO is used for.

Councilman Stacy Jester said the $45,000 doesn’t include pay for Tammie Rose, the Community Development Director, and the office is operated with sales tax money.

Poole admitted he didn’t know anything about the interlocal agreement.

While the discussion could have ended there, it didn’t. Dalrymple said increases are done in the annual budget, but this isn’t the agreement as he remembers it.

Godwin said the agreement was amended when the EDO and Chamber joined together. She suggested since the $45,000 the EDO is given annually hasn’t changed since 2012, the city Could look at the money it’s providing other agencies, such as the Depot Museum, Chamber, Nevada County Ambulance Service and EDO, and see how they’re using the funds, and increase the EDO’s funding by $3,000 so it could cover its own utilities and not take the money from the sales tax.

It was pointed out the Chamber does fundraisers to help keep it viable. Godwin said the EDO isn’t set up to do fundraisers.

Vasser suggested he be allowed to find the original agreement and the council discuss it at its September meeting.

From there, the council voted 6-1 to approve the monthly financial report, with Councilman Susie Meeks casting the lone no vote. However, Jester’s vote, theoretically, shouldn’t count as she, at the end of the meeting, announced a replacement would have to be found for her as she was leaving her district. This would have made the vote 5-1.

After a brief discussion, Mayor Terry Oliver said Gary Lowdermilk had been contacted and agreed to take Jester’s spot for the rest of the year. Lowdermilk served in that district but didn’t run for reelection.