Archive for Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Edwardsville council rehashes new City Hall position

August 12, 2015

The Edwardsville City Council Monday approved its 2016 budget, but not before rehashing the need for a budgeted position at City Hall.

Michael Webb, city manager, told the council during a public hearing that there were no surprises, changes, or modifications from what the council had previously discussed, and the city’s property tax rate would not change. While some council members seemed uncomfortable including a full time customer service clerk whose duties had yet to be clearly defined, others reminded them of the need for Webb to perform more economic development duties.

“We aren’t saying city manager is going to be the end-all, be-all economic development person,” Councilman Jason Gillam said. “… But there are some low-hanging fruit opportunities. And it doesn’t do us any good to go out and attract the new, shiny thing if we don’t maintain what we have.”

The city plans to restructure positions in City Hall with the resignation of City Clerk Tamara Harris. Webb said he is currently interviewing candidates for a new position, a combination assistant to the city manager and city clerk.

The customer service clerk would help the city better spread out duties at City Hall and likely would take on some current city clerk duties. The position is budgeted at $56,652, but Webb reminded the council that this includes the highest level of benefits the city could offer — for example, if the person hired signs into the city’s health insurance for a family rather than just for themselves.

Councilmen Chuck Stites and Craig Crider asked staff to explain how the new position would affect the division of duties.

During a retreat in the spring, the council discussed the need for help in City Hall to free up Webb to work on economic development and business retention. On Monday, Gillam also reminded the council of the need for some redundancy so the city can continue to operate as normal even if a staff member is out sick or on vacation.

“We’ve also talked about a whole list of things we want to do as a community, and when I look at the team we have, we don’t really have the people to do all of those things,” Gillam said. “Today isn’t really to solve who is doing what, today is to set a max budget. We need to get a point with our city staff … we need some redundancy. It’s going to be painful when Tamara leaves.”

Other new items included in the budget are:

• A full-time police officer, to be hired in July 2016, $37,902

• Upgrading a part-time public works maintenance position to full-time, $34,164

• Pay adjustments for employees

• Increasing cemetery fund contributions by $15,000

• Acquiring additional parks mower, $12,000; new skid steer loader on four-year lease, $15,515; and a power cot for an ambulance, $12,000.

• Covered parking for police vehicles, $13,800

The budget calls for the city’s mill levy to remain at 47.367, though more revenues will be put into the debt service fund.

No members of the public spoke during the public hearing for the budget.

The budget shows the city will start with a $707,165 carryover from 2015 and end with $722,482 in cash reserves. Total expenditures for 2016, not including estimated delinquent taxes and the expected cash reserves, is $5,238,716.

The special sales tax that voters approved last year for fire/EMS, parks and roads is now estimated to raise at $307,361 for 2015, which is more than the budgeted $225,000. Expenditures for 2015 from the fund are planned at $169,170, so $138,191 will be carried over into 2016.

The 2016 budget estimates the special sales tax revenue $296,578 and plans expenditures of $230,088: $130,088 for Fire/EMS pumper, brush truck and extrication equipment, and $100,000 for street maintenance, which would leave $204,681 in the fund.

Webb warned the council that they may need to discuss using some of those funds for additional street maintenance.

At the end of the meeting, council members said all in all, they were very pleased with the budget. Gillam said he thought it included some items Edwardsville has been working toward for some time.

“We’re really taking those steps to bettering our community,” he said.

Councilman Chuck Adams agreed.

“We’re going into our 100th year with a momentum that we haven’t had in several years,” he said.

In other business, the council approved a preliminary plan and plat for Plaza West II, 11021 and 11041 Kaw Drive. An extension of the existing Plaza West development, he plan calls for four 6,000 square-foot buildings on 2.9 acres.

A final plat and site plan will need to be approved to begin construction; preliminary approval expires after a year. But Dan Foster of Schlagel & Associates said the developer, Dennis Hillhouse, is in talks with two potential occupants for the buildings, so construction should move forward quickly. The developer also has already installed sanitary sewer lines.

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