City Administrator presents balanced budget to Council

A wise man once said, “Compromise is when everybody walks equally unhappy.”  
As it stands, most of the departments that submitted budget suggestions to the City Council and City Administrator in April are going to be less than happy with the 2014-2015 budget.  
City Administrator Joe Johnson explained that with the requested budget changes and numbers he was given, he started out with a $320,521 deficit.  
After months of work, Johnson was able to bring a balanced budget to the City Council for their review and suggestions, advising them that the final budget was due to the State of Nebraska by Sept. 20.
Councilman Mark Mercer requested that he and the other council members be provided with the excel spreadsheets Johnson had used including the breakdowns of departments and budgeted amounts.
At the meeting, the City Council had the opportunity to review the draft.  
Councilman Jim Stark praised Johnson for the work done to balance the budget starting with a deficit that large, but said he would want to see what they were losing in the process.  
Some of the major changes Johnson made to proposed budgets are as follows:

The fourth paramedic requested was taken out of the budget.
The planned sinking fund deposit of  $57,000 toward the $180,000 price tag for a new rescue squad was also used elsewhere.  

Fire Department
Rather than the $5,000 requested, $2,200 was budgeted for replacing discontinued pagers and other needs.

Building Inspections/
This budget was increased by $10,000.
Street Department:
The street department will not be getting the $95,000 patcher they requested, or an increase in the salary budget.  In fact the budget for salaries was cut by $40,000 as Johnson said that it had been budgeted high previously because of some rough years requiring a lot of overtime.  

The pool salary budget was down by $7,000; Johnson believed there was less staff being used since there was no longer a baby pool.
Public Properties/Grounds Department:
Salaries were reduced by $5,000 in this department due to the retirement of the person who had maintained the public restrooms.

The extra $6,100 requested for wall repair was taken out, and $2,500 was taken from electronic subscriptions.

The $32,000 requested for a new cruiser was taken out of the budget.

The budgeted amount for NCTC was dropped from $75,000 to $65,000.

The remainder of the council meeting passed fairly quickly, including the passage of two resolutions to approve application for and the guidelines of a Citywide Housing Rehabilitation Program that would allow the rehabilitation of 10 houses in Nebraska City with household income at or below 80% of the Area Median Family Income.  Johnson said the City is still taking applications for potential homes to be rehabilitated, and had just started advertising three weeks ago.
The council approved the final plat of the Davie Subdivision, dividing a 15 acre tract into three lots for purposes of the sale of the property.
The SENDD contract for services regarding the CIS Grant for the Nuckolls Park Project was approved, with Councilman Jeff Crunk stressing that a plan needs to be made going into the project.
Windstream Communications’ request to replace a section of cable in the alley north of Central Avenue from 8th to 10th Street for purposes of improving communication between Spiral and the telephone office was approved.
The agreement between the Child Advocacy Center and the Nebraska City Police Department was approved, with David Partsch saying it was the same agreement that the council had approved last year.  
The ordinance allowing the zoning change for the property at 319 6th Avenue from R-2 Residential to I-1 Light Industrial was approved.
City Administrator Joe Johnson was appointed to the board of directors of the Nebraska Community Energy Alliance, an alliance of nine communities formed to find, apply for, and administer grants and funding sources for its members.
The council approved the exchange of Quitclaim Deeds and sale of a portion of city owned property to the Ramolds to fix a surveying error.  A corrective deed was approved for the Stolls to transfer to them their half of a vacated street that was mistakenly identified in 2006 deeds.
Discussion was heard about the benefits of buying copiers for the library, police department and city hall instead of leasing.  Current leases were due to expire in mid to late July, and over a period of 10 years, (the expected life of new copiers), savings of approximately $31,000 could be realized by purchasing.  Administrator
Johnson reminded the council that any such purchase had not yet been figured in to the draft budget he presented them with.