The Hope City Board held their first December meeting Monday December 10th. The proposed budget for 2019 was considered. It was for $12,414,077. This was more than 2018 but the increases were due to capital improvements on the rail spur and the airport. City Manager Catherine Cook noted there are $1,000 raises budgeted for the city’s 108 full-time employees. She noted this will be an average increase if 2.71%. She also noted this will be a balanced budget.
In capital projects, Cook noted the city has received what they asked for in the outdoor recreation grants which will fund new playground equipment for both North Side and Fair Park. She also noted the. $108,000 work on the airport drainage project will be funded by an FAA grant. Cook detailed the police department expansion will be split over two years at about$180,000 per year.
The board asked questions about the budget. Dr. Trevor Coffee asked about rental fees and Mark Ross asked about miscellaneous fees. Ross also asked about 9-1-1 fees and it was explained the payments from cellphone companies sometimes are held over until the first of the year but generally are steady. Board members also asked about airplane fuel revenue and on grants for bullet-proof vests for the police. Under the general fund, the board discussed funds for condemned house demolition. The $10,000 budget for the Beautification Committee and also the EDC’s request for $60,000 this year. The savings on phones were discussed and the city’s problem with having phone lines cancelled with A.T. & T. in July. That those lines are still being charged as late at November was discussed. Also building maintenance was discussed on City Hall.
The swimming pool was discussed. Cook noted efforts will be made to make sure the pool isn’t overstaffed. Cook also noted she had concerns about keeping the pool open after its official closing date for private parties. Dr. Trevor Coffee said the pool is a service and not the only such service the city loses money on.
On Capital Outlay, Cook detailed the expenses there as well as grants the city will use in this effort. Under the parks’ outlays the city plans on a new eXmark mower and a new “Gator” as well as looking into a remote and automated light system for the soccer field. It was also noted the downtown pavilion building materials will be delivered Wednesday and erection is expected to take 8 days.
City Financial Officer Debbie Hall went over the airport drainage project. She also detailed the rail spur program and the street fund. Cook detailed the 6th Street project costs. Hall detailed the sanitation budget including the trash collection budget. She also had details on the landfill budget. Hall also asked if the board was ok with a new residential trash truck and there appeared to be no opposition. The wastewater budget was also examined.
The board discussed possible changes in the sanitation department.
No action was taken on the budget. The board will meet again Tuesday December 18th.
Cook gave an update on the Bicentennial activities set for Saturday December 15th.
The board discussed forthcoming sales taxes on internet sales.
Under the City Managers report, Catherine Cook offered updates on the downtown pavilion, the rail spur project, the airport drainage project,and the wastewater project. Cook noted all were going well with the exception of the recent rains. The projects will continue after the ground dries. Tim Blue gave an update on street overlay and noted the overlay work should be finished Tuesday. Also it was noted some drainage work on Pine and 6th probably needs a little attention. The board also discussed having an historic salvage company look at the Foster/Kopecky house.
Director Mark Ross asked about the Stop sign at 16th and Spring Hill Road. Ross asked if that sign could be better highlighted. Cook said they will bring those concerns to the highway department.
Dr. Trevor Coffee pointed out the south bound traffic during the Christmas Parade was dangerous. It appears an officer let some traffic through. Also, Dr. Coffee said candy was thrown and kids were darting into the parade traffic. He noted this was dangerous and Chief J.R.Wilson agreed.
Director Reginald Easter asked if the storm sirens went off during the tornado. Cook explained the tornado was below weather service radar and no tornado warning was issued. Cook encouraged everyone to sign up for “Code Red”. Chief Wilson encouraged all to make sure their subscription to Code Red hasn’t expired.
Under Citizens Requests, Hazel Simpson complimented the City Hall decorations and asked for some attention to street signs. Jeff Cook commended the city and Hope Water and Light for their efforts during the recent tornado. Tim Blue said he’s never seen a utility as good as Hope Water and Light in getting power restored. Mayor Montgomery also commended the county crews.