City-County Review Revenue Obligations in Joint Meeting


Mayor Roger Stagner, Trevor Choat E911 Director, Staffon Warn, Rural Fire ChiefCommissioners Henry Schnabel, Joe Marble and County Administrator, Jo Dorenkamp

How much money do we have, how much do we have to spend, how much can you pay?  Those were the central questions surrounding common elements to the Lamar City Council and Prowers County Commissioners during a joint meeting held at the Cultural Events Center Monday evening, August 15. 

Those areas of interest included annual funding for PCDI, Prowers County Development Incorporated; Lamar Ambulance Service; E-9-1-1 Center, the Library Bookmobile; PATS, Prowers Area Transit Service and the Lamar Community Resource and Senior Center.  For several years, the city and county have tried to find equitable percentages of contributions for these areas, but the sticking point has been the level of funding as opposed to the amount of use.  The county points out that it funds some areas, such as PATS, E-9-1-1 or the Lamar Ambulance that are used primarily by city residents. 

PCDI has been funded equally by the city and county, each contributing $50,000 annually to the operation of the economic development organization.  Commissioner Gene Millbrand pledged $50,000 for the 2012 budget.  Lamar Mayor Roger Stagner indicated there were no immediate changes in funding that he could see, but long range support would be pending any budget changes the city encounters over the next several years.  The city’s three year commitment to funding PCDI is expiring.  

The county is ready to discontinue funding for the Bookmobile as being too expensive to operate.  Based on an assessment that it costs about $5 to have a book checked out from the mobile library, the county is prepared to let any future funding, about $32,500 a year,  expire.   The city operates the bookmobile, and Mayor Stagner said Debbie Reynolds, Lamar Librarian needs to be brought into the discussion, as there is the possibility of a person losing a job unless they could be reintegrated into the library staff in another capacity.  Commissioner Millbrand said, “Given the ability to download books from the internet, the bookmobile has pretty much outlived its purpose compared with modern technology.”  Commissioner Joe Marble stated that he can pay a lending library to have a book mailed directly to him.  Councilman P.J. Wilson supported the conclusion.  He said the city is looking at replacing a generator for the bookmobile in the neighborhood of $12,000.   Millbrand said the county has levied a quarter percent of a mill to pay for the operation, and that money could be better spent someplace else, such as supporting the cost of the Lamar Ambulance. 

The Lamar Ambulance service does not operate at a profit.  Indigent care, according to Lamar Fire Chief Marshall Cook, takes a big bite out of the operation, and Medicaid only pays about $92 towards the cost of just a basic run which amounts to $450 per trip.  Cook said most of the calls in Lamar are Medicaid based.  The Lamar Ambulance service has picked up where the Holly ambulance service ended over three years ago, due to lack of staffing.  And just recently, Cook said, the number of calls from the Granada-Bristol area has picked up inordinately, “We had four calls from that area in just the past week.”  It’s a seasonal situation due mostly to migrant workers currently in the vicinity.  He said we’re also getting domestic violence calls as well.  In response to a suggestion from the commissioners to screen calls for service, Cook said that was illegal.  Cook added that some patients have learned ‘how to work the system’ to get free rides to the hospital, even for what may be a non-life threatening call.  A financing suggestion included developing an ambulance district for the city, but Cook believed the county had also considered developing a fire district and didn’t want to run the possibility of both ideas being voted down by the community, given a tight economy.  Millbrand said the commissioners would review their budget to see if the county could increase its annual contribution. 

Commissioner Joe Marble said the county had the E-9-1-1 board to commit to $90,000 for funding, but a trip to the Granada town board for funding has been delayed.  Marble said the $90,000 comes from a seventy cent surcharge on all phones in the county, including cell phones, and generates $116,000 a year.  He said recent improvements such as a new phone system and a communication tower in Holly has used up a lot of the Center’s budget, as well as federal mandated ‘bird flapper’ attachments at a cost of $8,500.  Millbrand asked why, if there was a pre-set contribution from all parties, (Lamar, Prowers County, E 9-1-1), was the county receiving a bill over and above its obligation.   The payments are based on a percentage of law enforcement calls responded to.  Overall, the county contributes 32% of funding based on calls.  Councilman Wilson said that under the current contract for example, billing for 2012 would be based on audited figures for 2010.  He said the city will fund the overages until the following year’s budget.  The county remains responsible for the upkeep to the physical facility.  The city pays for administration and employment issues, plus some assorted business hardware.  The commissioners are meeting with the Granada town board on August 24 to request funding assistance on the number of calls based from that community.   

PATS, Prowers Area Transit Service has seen some added revenues through  some new and aggressive Medicaid billing practices, along with a different form of scheduling rides and pick-up of passengers.  Their waiting time may be increased somewhat, but fuel savings through fewer miles driven are being realized when passenger destinations are grouped at one time instead of individually.  Commissioner Millbrand said Danny Glover, has also developed better relationships with grant funders, gaining new amendments to grants that were not sought in the past.  Federal grants have been decreasing over the past several years, from $176,770 in 2008, to $80,553 in 2011 YTD.  Revenue from riders has also decreased, from $28,466 in 2008 to $9,880 in 2011 YTD.  The city’s has contributed $40,000 per year to the PATS operation.  Expenses have also fallen since 2008, from $308,536 to $277,513 in 2010.  The county has contributed between $58,645 and $46,860 in that period.  The county provides a comparable amount each year to the operation of the Senior Center on East Olive Street, with total expenses ranging from $101,520 to $85,575 over the past three years.  Revenues, mostly from federal grants at the Center, have been in the neighborhood of from $44,100 in 2008, to $40,455 for 2010. 

The Intergovernmental Agreement between the city and county remains unresolved, specifically as it applies to the Urban Development project.  Both entities have recently employed attorneys to help develop their respective positions on revenue sharing, based on Tax Increment Funding in the Renewal area, and on a subordination clause as it applies to potential revenue loss over any future bonding issues.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: BusinessCityCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyFeaturedGranadaHealthHollyLamarLaw EnforcementPublic SafetyTransportation


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