The Hope City Board met Tuesday December 3rd. The board had only one agenda item and that was a proposed budget for 2020. City Manager Catherine Cook noted the proposed revenue and expenditures are both $11,161,252. She noted these numbers were less than last year, mostly because last year included a large rail spur renovation project and a large airport project. Cook explained that the budget is split between the general fund, the airport fund, street department, the sanitation fund, and the wastewater fund. At the request of a board member, Cook began a line by line explanation of the proposed budget. She said they are budgeting very closely on sales tax revenue as they are not expecting much increase in sales tax revenues.
The board discussed a variety of budget subjects. One significant discussion had to do with the city’s seventy year old swimming pool. One of the problems was the pool had significant amounts of sand in the bottom. This caused the bottom to be cloudy and having a pool for which you can’t see the bottom is a health hazard as someone could drown and not be seen. The budget has $10,000 earmarked to try and discover what the problem is. Mayor Steve Montgomery noted the AEDI Strategic Plan has determined a community center with a pool is one of the goals. Cook noted the pool may not be fixable.
Cook noted the proposed budget does not have salary increases for employees. She noted a board member has asked about a $500 across the board increase and this would cost $66,000. She noted this amount is going towards a health insurance increase. Mayor Montgomery noted minimum wage employees get a 75 cents per hour raise after the first of the year and the Mayor was in favor of taking the amount for a $500 raise from reserves. Discussion ensued further about a possible raise. The Mayor asked Cook to figure the budget with the raise for consideration in two weeks.
The board decided to save Capital Outlay projections for the next meeting. Cook noted she didn’t have funding finalized on the 6th Street project and the upgrade for the Class IV landfill.
The board voted to give $125 Christmas bonuses to all employees.
Director Mark Ross asked about how the permits are coming on the prepared food tax. Cook said most have come in and Chief Wilson has visited several. Ross asked city finance director Debbie Hall what we could expect if everyone complied and she said she didn’t know because they don’t know what to expect from the ones who haven’t paid.
Ross asked about the”streetscape” project connecting downtown to the Clinton Birthplace. Cook noted a consultant has come and walked the area. The new entry to the Clinton Birthplace was discussed. Also parts for the ceiling fans at “The Hub” were discussed. Paul Henley noted the playgrounds at both parks are complete and the elephant slide at Fair Park has been refurbished but not installed. Some sidewalks and parking will probably come in the spring. Ross noted the Klipsch Foundation has purchased the Feild home and it was also noted the Christmas Carol sing-along in the Klipsch Auditorium drew about 160 people. Cook noted they have had positive comments on the decorations and the statues downtown.
The meeting then adjourned.