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Hope City Board

By Mark Keith, 11/15/22 8:48 PM

The Hope City Board met Tuesday for their 2nd meeting of November.  Following the prayer and pledge the board moved into agenda items.

Bonnie Raff of the Daughters of the American Revolution is her chapter’s representative for Native Americans.  She noted she had put a display at the Hempstead County Library.  She also detailed her time teaching Native Americans on a reservation.  Mrs. Raff said unfortunately many Native Americans are moving off their reservations.  She noted there are about 300 reservations and about 2 million Native Americans in the USA.  Mayor Don Still read a proclamation celebrating American Indian Heritage month.

The city looked at the 2021 Audit Report.  William C. Miller, LLC prepared the audit.  City Manager Catherine Cook thanked city financial officer Cindy Clark for her hard work.  The Miller Representative said the city was doing well despite the pandemic.  Income was $19,343,000 which was up about $2.8 million.  He noted grant income and tax income was up.  It was noted expenses were down.  Surplus was $6.9 million and this was split about 65/35 Unrestricted and Restricted funds.  Long term debt is down about $4.6 million.  Hope Water and Light has about $42 million.  Mark Ross asked if there was anything the city can do to improve and the auditor noted there was not really anything he saw.

The board looked at a condemnation lien.  The city ended up taking down the burned building at 523 West 3rd in 2013.  This was the old Pet Bath House/Raley’s building. The city filed a cleanup lien of $8,801.76.  The previous owner, Myrtle Patterson, passed away in May. Her daughter, Cherie Jones, has contacted the board to ask if they would lower the lien.  Jones expressed surprise concerning the lien.  Board member Steve Montgomery said he wouldn’t be against reducing the lien if there is a buyer.  City Attorney Randy Wright noted the property owner would clear the lien upon selling the property.  Mark Ross suggested getting at least $5,180 the city actually spent to tear down the building.  It was noted the city has reduced liens at least twice in the past.  The board voted to reduce the lien to $5,180 (waiving the landfill fees) if Ms.. Jones pays it within six months.

The board looked at a proposed budget for 2023.  The proposal was prepared by Assistant City Manager J.R. Wilson and Finance Officer Cindy Clark.  The proposed budget was $18,144,957. This includes some capital projects such as waste water improvements (part of which are contingent upon receiving grant funds), an airport project,and the Street Scape project which would improve sidewalks between Elm and the Clinton Birthplace on 2nd Street.  Wilson addressed the board concerning the proposal.  He noted the proposal included a $1,500 cost of living adjustment for full-time employees and $750 for part-time employees.  Wilson also detailed falling balances over the past few years in sanitation and also concerns about waste water revenue about flat waste water revenue.  Wilson said more line repairs will be needed in the future.  One other thing in the proposed budget was a drone.  Wilson said the fire department is requesting $34,000 for new electric extrication equipment.  Also noted were some lighting needs for the parks department.  The airport and street department funding requests were discussed. Also discussed were some vehicular and heavy equipment needs.  Other discussions centered on Rose Hill Cemetery and contributions from the Timber Creek addition.  Steve Montgomery asked about sales tax and it was noted city and county sales tax revenues are up.  City is up 10% and county is up 7%.  Dr. Linda Clark said she applauded Wilson’s attention and sensitivity to all citizens.  No action was taken.  The board will address the budget at a future meeting.

The board looked at a request from Yerger Middle School to waive a fee at a park facility for a dance.  Mayor Still recommended not waiving the fee.  No action was taken.

Under the City Manager’s Report, Catherine Cook said the contractor is starting on 6th Street.  She said they haven’t signed a contract on the Street Scape project but the highway department says the city can sign the contract and it is being prepared.

Under Citizens Requests, Marsha White asked about dumpsters and the signs on them.. White said there isn’t a sign in the North Side Park dumpster and the dumpster on the west side of the coliseum.  It was noted this will be addressed.  It was also noted some improvement is needed by whoever picks up and dumps the North Side dumpster.

Darrell Allen noted the employees appreciate their bonuses and proposed raises..

The board went into executive session at 8:41pm.  The board reconvened at 8:47.  No action was taken and the.meeting adjourned.