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Harmony looks for more budget cuts


Fri, Jan 16th, 2009
Posted in Government

The City of Harmony received their second LGA (Local Government Aid) payment for 2008 on December 15. They usually receive two payments a year from the state for a total of $375,000. This year, however, with the state looking at adeficit, many cities saw a significantly smaller check.

City Administrator Jerome Illg said Harmony received a $36,139 cut in their LGA in December. That money is for the second half of 2008, which has already come and gone. He is also anticipating that there will be even more cuts in 2009. This makes planning the budget difficult for council members.

"There's no real way of knowing how much less we'll get," said Illg. He added that the council should be proactive, and not wait until April or May when they find out how much will be cut.

Cities with a population of under 1,000 did not receive any cuts this time around, but Illg said it is likely that everyone will see the cuts next year.

Mayor Steve Donney, during his first meeting as Mayor, asked if it would help to have each department look at their budgets and see what kind of cuts they can make. He suggested that they assume they will be getting $200,000 for the year, and see how they can make that work.

Council member Gerald Shuck said some departments have more leeway than others, as they cannot cut things like bond or loan payments. Librarian Stephanie Silvers was at the meeting and said the library needs to have $62,000 to function, and the city can't cut any more than that.

The council is planning on making $100,000 in cuts and go from there. They may have to make more in future months when they find out more about their LGA.

Land Request

Linus Hammell of Hammell Equipment made an offer to the city to purchase a piece of land behind his business. The area behind the campground where the ice skating rink used to be was recently found to be owned by the school district. The district deeded it back to the city, and Hammell purchased a parcel 25 feet to the east of his business. He offered the city $5,000 for another 50 feet to the east.

Illg passed out a map of the area showing the lots where Hammell Equipment is located. One of the problems with Hammell purchasing the lot is the fact that a fire hydrant is located right in the middle of it. Shuck asked City maintenance worker Chris Johnson if the hydrant could be moved or if there was even one needed in the area.

Johnson said there was another hydrant nearby on that block. Shuck thought the hydrant was there for flooding the skating rink in the past. Johnson said the line could be moved to the south edge of the property line and capped off. He said right now the water lines go to the east to the campground, where there are facilities for campers to use. If Hammell purchased the land, the lines would be going through his property.

Hammell is planning on putting up a loading dock and a driveway for trucks behind his business. He will have to fill in the part of the land that is sunken in for the old skating rink. The property will also have to be zoned for commercial use.

Donney suggested a committee to meet and discuss the water issues and speak with Planning and Zoning. He had some concerns about selling the property for $5,000 but paying more than that to solve the water issues. However, he feels they can work with Hammell on this. Illg, Johnson, Deb Scrabeck and Shuck will be on the committee.

Garbage Bids

Illg received a few bids on garbage removal. The lowest bids came from Waste Management, the company the city is currently using. Two options were presented to the city. The first one would keep things the same. Residents would buy garbage bags, and recycling would be picked up every week. In the second option, residents would have two large carts; one for recycling and one for garbage. The recycling would go in a 64 gallon cart and would be picked up every other week. Residents could choose from three different sizes of garbage carts, depending on their needs. The residents would pay a certain price every month even if they did not place the carts on the curb. They would not have to buy garbage bags. The council chose to stick with the first option and accepted the bid from Waste Management.

Energy Cost Savings

New council member Dan Tieffenbacher made a few suggestions for the city to save money as well as energy. The first suggestion was having the city office go to a four-day work week. According to Tieffenbacher, employees would still work the same amount of hours, but they would have a three-day weekend. The office would be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday.

Illg pointed out that the school rents several rooms on the west side of the school. Other people use other parts of the building as well, and the thermostats are turned down to 58 degrees at night.

Donney said that in a larger building with more employees, they would probably see more savings with a four-day work week. He added that people depend on the offices to be opened during the week.

Proposal for Dialers

The city received a few proposals from Morem Electric on the alarming of the water tower and lift stations. The city approved the option of replacing a faulty dialer at two lift stations. The dialers will be configured to dial up to four numbers in case of emergency or if the water level gets too high. The cost for replacement, without installation, is $1,700.

Other Business

City Attorney Richard Nethercut swore in the new mayor and the new council members Tieffenbacher and Scrabeck.

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