City Holds Public Hearing on 2013 Budget, Light Plant Discusses Rate Reduction

While not finalized yet, the Lamar City Council reviewed the city’s 2013 budget during Monday night’s public hearing, October 8.  City Administrator, John Sutherland, said that although the 2013 figures are reflected in the proposed budget ordinance, more discussion will be held with the council and department heads on October 19.  

Sutherland said tax revenues are showing a slight increase over 2011 and 2012, which is good news, but he prefers a planned budget, explaining, “rather than try to under estimate revenues, and then at the end of the year we have ourselves a big surprise.  This way, we show ourselves there will be a slight increase in revenues and we plan for those increases.”  Sutherland added he anticipates some adjustments on the expenditure side of the budget which will be considered in shaping the final budget. 

Lamar Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh, briefly outlined the light plant’s 2013 budget for the council, explaining how electric rates should be decreasing for customers given the elimination of a 12% ECA, Electric Cost Adjustment and instituting a pre-planned 2.5% rate increase by November.  He estimated the 9.5% reduction would translate into a 7% drop in the rate charged to most customers, based on kilowatt per hour usage.  He said the budget would be outlined more thoroughly by the utility board during their Tuesday, October 10 meeting. 

The city will be paid $52,000 up front for a four year lease of 634 acres of land at the municipal airport by Gourley Irrigation, LLC, an oil and gas company.  Mayor Roger Stagner recounted the specifics of the agreement which has not been approved by the council, pending acceptance of several addendums included by city attorney, Garth Nieschburg.  There are also some FAA regulations which must be adhered to regarding use of the land and operation of the airport.  The city will also be paid a 15% royalty on profits from future drilling. 

The council selected Public Sector Personnel Consultants to conduct a survey for salary and compensation adjustments for city employees.  City Administrator, John Sutherland, said the $25,000 fee if flexible, based on the number of job descriptions performed by the survey team. 

Bert Davis, City Human Resources Director, described a fee reduction proposal on the employee Wellness benefit program.  The Insurance Committee recommended, and the council approved, a $250 a year reduction in the deductible coverage for those employees who took part in the annual evaluation and a $250 bonus for those who met their annual health improvement goals which would be applied to medical expenses.  If unused the money reverts back to the city.

 Mayor Stagner signed a proclamation declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  The proclamation was described by Lisa Mendenhall, executive director of the regional domestic abuse program and Debbie Reynolds, Lamar Librarian.  Mendenhall  explained briefly, the negative impact domestic violence plays in family relationships and a community in general, stating that an average of three women die a day due to domestic violence and one in four women and one in 13 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

 In other action, Administrator Sutherland recapped the city’s efforts to secure funding from the Department of Local Affairs for improvements to the city’s levee system, about $200,000.  He said funding could also be provided by the Corps of Engineers and the NRCS.  The new flood plain mapping system for the city shows approximately 2,000 residents whose property would require flood insurance. 

Discussions over an extension of Camino de Santa Fe, the road between Walmart and Dollar General will continue with CDOT.  For the past few years, there was talk of extending the road north to connect with Highway 50 east.  Dollar General favors the proposal, but Sutherland said CDOT is not inclined to agree.  The city still has a functioning permit which allows preliminary work to continue.  The administrator said the city has $190,000 in ARRA funding left over from recent water projects.  He proposed the council earmark some future expenditures for later use before December 1, as the funds will go away by the end of the year.  Sutherland recommended the HVAC and energy saving projects being evaluated for city owned buildings by Honeywell and the needed hardware be purchased from the $190K.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: BusinesscommunityEconomyEnergyFeaturedLamarRecreationUtilities


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