Members of the Providence City Council heard the first reading of a budget of $7.85 million for Fiscal Year 2019-20 on Monday night. That reflects a rise of roughly $350,000 from the 18-19 budget of $7.5 million.
Council members spent much of the meeting question line items from the budget and having the explained by a combination of Mayor Doug Hammers, city clerk Tiffany Conrad and Public Works Director David May.
Those items included:
•$150,000 for a new ambulance
•$46,000 for a new police cruiser
•$35,000 to public works for a truck
•$75,000 to the electric department for a new truck
•$50,000 to the water department
See Council/Page A8
for a new truck
Also in the budget was $119,000 for the Providence Municipal Golf and Recreation Center (PMGRC), which appears to operate in the positive, a fact that councilman Mark Turner pointed out to be false.
"You don't have the salaries for the golf course in the budget," Turner said and was told that those employees are listed as employees of the city, not the golf course. "If you put those salaries in the golf course will be in the red."
He added that all other departments in the city pay their employees out of their departmental budget.
"That is the way it has always been done," May said.
Turner also pointed out that the city spends $17,000 per year to lease golf carts for PMGRC. Those carts are then rented out for $13,000 per year, producing a loss of $4,000.
The councilman also pointed out that the cost of a golf simulator for the golf course had been put into the budget. The council has discussed the purchase several times over the last two months. Mayor Hammers had originally suggested the golf course borrow the money from the bank for the purchase, and then let rental fees pay off the loan. Councilman Keith Farrell had, however, objected, saying that the city needed to approach the tourism commission about funding the project.
Hammers and PMGRC director Kenny Hayes had agreed to discuss the issue with the commission the last time the item was discussed in council. No report on that meeting has been issued.
"We are considering that golf course equipment," Hammers told the council.
Council member Myra Bell, who is in her first term, questioned the format of the budget.
"When I budget, I don't spend everything I bring in," Bell said. "I'm used to a budget being actual figure. None of that is shown here."
Under Kentucky law, every city must submit a budget to the state before the new fiscal year, which begins on July 1. That budget must include estimated income and expenses for the year. Any overage or shortfalls will necessitate the council making a budget amendment later in the year to correct the differences.
Unlike utility companies and other quasi-governmental entities, a municipal government is not supposed to make a profit. Every dollar that comes into the city is supposed to at least be budget to be spent, producing a "balanced budget."
Council members finally concluded that they would hold a work session next Monday at 7:00 p.m. to breakdown the budget and discussion items listed within. The meeting is open to the public. Legally, no action can be taken at that meeting.
In other business, Providence resident Willie Torain addressed the council in regards to the issue of the well known sewage odor problem that continues to be an issue at the foot of the hill on Westerfield Drive.
"We've been doing this for years," Torain told the council. "Its been around and around and it still happens every time it rains."
The causes of the odor is well known. At the point where the sewage line from the city of Dixon meet with the sewage lines for the city of Providence, the strong odor of sewage escapes. The distances the Dixon sewage has to travel, combined with water infiltrating those lines when it rains and those lines dropping into the Providence main, results in the release of foul smelling sewer gas.
The city and county have both thrown money at the issue. One step that actually made a difference was the construction of an automated pump station on US 41-A near Palmer Place. Equipment inside the building introduced chemicals into the Dixon sewage, which helped to reduce and even eliminate the smell. However, that equipment was plagued with problems from the start and has been inoperable for several years.
"We have some studies that have been done," said Hammers. "We expect our new engineer to move forward with this. I understand. I wouldn't want to smell that every day either."
Bell did not seem satisfied with the mayor's answer. She quickly asked how long some of the more senior members of the council had been in office. The answer ranged from 14 to three years.
"I live there," she said. "You may drive by and smell it, but you don't live there. That is a hazard. Its not the same if you just pass up and down the street."
Hammers issued a promise to Torain and Bell that he would see the problem solved.
Reach MATT HUGHES at 270-667-2068 or email@example.com