May 25, 2021 Council Meeting Update

Agenda (Click to open)

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Item C (new Police Officer)

Lots of discussion on this. My concern is that the police budget has skyrocketed over the past 4-5 years and I'm unsure if it is justified. Of all the expenses a city has, one of the most accepted by the residents is the cost of police. But at this point we have 9 full time officers for approximately 7000 people. The main reason for this officer was the opening of the interchange, but we only provide backup for the county and we haven't added much in the way of commercial there yet.

This officer was planned for in this year's budget so the cost is covered, but every new person hired by the city brings a lot of extra cost risks that aren't always accounted for.

This did pass (I voted for it) 4-1.

Item D (new Police Admin)

This one was another difficult hire in that the cost wasn't accounted for in the budget and it wasn't planned. Staff insisted it is needed but the justification was troublesome and hard to explain here.

This did pass (I voted for it) 4-1, but I have asked staff to hold off on this as I suspect there will be further discussion on it.

Item H (Yearly Audit)

Every year the city has an independent firm perform an audit. According to the audit representative there were no findings other than the standard one, which is concern over the lack of independence due to the relatively small number of staff.

More details can be found in the meeting video online or walking through the reports contained in the agenda packet.

Item I (Debt Update)

The city recently replaced our financial contractor with a full time finance Director (Zach Doud). He presented a discussion on the city's current debt picture.

Some of the important components:

  • We currently have $18M in debt (roughly $6,000 per house) and yes, that's a lot.
  • IF we don't borrow any more, in 5 years that number will be cut in half.
  • Money that goes towards paying the debt comes from new construction (residential and commercial), assessments, or taxes. Right now I believe around 1/3 comes from taxes but...
  • In the next 2 years we have 2 bond payments that currently are paid by taxes that will be paid off. When this happened in the past couple of years, that resulted in hidden spending to fill that "hole". I don't plan on continuing that practice.

One of the things always on my mind with our debt is... those debt payments need to be made. If there is a downturn in construction, that burden then falls on the taxes. That means roughly $1.6M could be added to our already significant $5.3M tax burden. That number gets better each year we don't borrow (and spending plays a significant part in that trade-off) but it's still a significant risk.

Item J (Meeting Process)

This item had been pushed out over a couple meetings for various reasons. This was basically a collection of items I just wanted to clarify with staff on how we will move forward with the new council/committees for meetings and agenda's being created.

Some of the outcomes:

  • Any member of any committee can request an agenda item for discussion.
  • 10 minute discussion limit on any member.
  • Questions on any agenda item that require research need to be requested ahead of time.
  • Consent agenda should not include condemnation, hiring, or significantly expensive agenda items (other than payment of claims).
  • A way to get a clickable index in the PDF will be researched.

One of the things not agreed to was getting the agenda out 7 days early instead of 5. Personally I feel that 100's of pages of information is hard to digest and any extra time would help.

Item L (Well 4 treatment)

This was to spend $90k to fund plan development for a treatment facility for the latest water well. That treatment facility ($4M) would only treat that well's output and would basically result in us going the direction of having a treatment facility on each well. We currently are still pushing for a regional treatment facility and other possible changes in our building code to mitigate this need.