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City council gives close scrutiny to proposed 2017-18 budget expenditures

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 – Tuesday’s Bardstown City Council working session had most of the city’s department heads in attendance for the council’s review of the proposed Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget.

Councilman Bill Sheckles listens during discussion with city department heads regarding proposed expenditures in the city’s proposed 2017-18 budget.

Tuesday night’s session looked exclusively at the city’s General Fund expenses, particularly expenditures the council members sought details about.

During the discussion, Mayor Dick Heaton noted that after he received the city’s proposed 2017-18 budget last month, he compared it to the budget for his last year as mayor seven years ago.

“I was somewhat surprised — that’s the nicest way to say it — that the budget has grown $15 million in seven years,” he said.

Not all of that increase is operational expenses — some of that increase represents pass-through expenses related to city utilities. He stressed the importance of the council and administration giving city expenditures close scrutiny.

RECREATION. Recreation Director Daniel Jeffries outlined a number of plans and maintenance projects for city parks and recreation.

The recreation budget would include another maintenance position and a receptionist to take calls in the office during times when Jeffries and his assistant are tied up with recreation activities and out of the office.

Recreation Director Daniel Jeffries describes the work needed to rehabilitate the Jones Avenue tennis courts.

At the city’s community park, Jeffries said he would like to pave the northern half of the parking lot that is now gravel. He also said he would like to build a pavilion on the north east of the park on level ground that would be more handicap accessible. Handicap accessible bathrooms would also be a plus, he said.

The Jones Avenue tennis courts are deteriorating and need renovation. Bethlehem High School plays its school matches there, and has offered to help defray the cost of renovation the courts. Jeffries said he would like to see the courts become multi-use courts, which could include pickleball, a sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis.

FIRE DEPARTMENT. Chief Randy Walker’s budget includes $150,000 for a training tower, which will allow training sessions to take place in town and not require on-duty firefighters to leave the city limits. Walker said grant money may be available from the fire commission on the order of $75,000 to help fund the purchase.

“If we don’t get the grant, I that purchase goes away because there’s no way I can justify a $150,000 purchase, Walker told the council.

The air tanks the fire department uses with its self-contained breathing apparatus gear is nearly the end of its useful life, and will need to be replaced prior to 2018

Fire Chief Randy Walker discusses the proposed purchase of a mobile training tower — provided the department receives grant money it has applied for.

Walker is also working on getting crews nationally certified with an eye on an ISO inspection of the city’s firefighting capability sometime in early 2018.

POLICE. Chief Steve Uram said his proposed budget includes hiring an administrative assistant to assist in the police station. The budget also includes $220,000 for the purchase of new Ford Explorer police vehicles.

Uram said his budget also includes a line item for travel expenses for a police representative to attend the annual Police Week event in Washington, D.C.

COBEC BUILDING. The budget for the city owned former Old Kentucky Home school building on East Muir will need to include the costs to update the buildings air conditioning system, and to build an outside ramp to make the gym handicap accessible, Risk Manager Greg Ashworth told the council.

FINANCE DEPARTMENT. Chief Financial Officer Tracy Hudson has budgeted to make one of her part-time customer service representatives a full-time employee.

Hudson said the workload has increased and justifies the move. In six months, the city handles more than 50,000 phone calls, as well as walk-in customers.

On the revenue side, Hudson the budget estimates the city’s 1 percent occupational tax will bring in $4.4 million in revenue.

NEXT UP. The Bardstown City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in the council chambers on Xavier Drive next to the Rec. Center.

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