City council continues budget review

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Napoleon City Council continued to talk about the 2014 budget Monday, approving some capital improvement items and additional requests.

For the second year in a row, council agreed to budget money to purchase a mini excavator. While $100,000 was appropriated last year, that amount has been reduced to $80,000, which would include $20,000 from the trade in of a backhoe.

Council appropriated the money last year but decided not to spend it when the time came.

Another $107,000 was okayed to relocate a 69 kilovolt electric line near Huddle Road at State Route 108. In previous meetings, City Manager Jon Bisher explained the line is in a farmer’s field. If that line should break during a storm, crews would not be able to reach it because the field would be too muddy.

It is also planned to spend $130,000 for a new ambulance to replace a 1989 model for the fire department.

The city will be spending about $36,000 for new LED lights at the city building. City Finance Director Greg Heath said Napoleon should receive a $3,700 rebate from the Efficiency Smart program and also realize $3,000 in energy savings.

A similar program will be conducted at the police station, though the total cost is estimated at $15,000. The city would also receive a $1,500 rebate through Efficiency Smart.

Council also approved setting aside $25,000 into a reserve fund to help pay for a replacement liner to the municipal pool. The hope is to add to the fund each year until it comes time to replace the liner.

Several additional requests were also approved Monday by council. Unlike the capital improvement items, none of the additional requests had already been included in the budget, so anything added from this category will result in money coming out of the budget somewhere else. That likely will be determined by Bisher.

After some debate, council agreed, by a 4-3 margin, to create a new position of assistant law director to handle the criminal prosecutions. Law Director Trevor Hayberger originally estimated the cost for the part-time position to be $37,940, but felt he could get it down to around $30,000. It is believed someone just out of law school will be hired for the position.

Councilwoman-elect Heather Wilson, who will take a seat on council in 2014, said she didn’t think it was a good idea to increase staffing through the general fund when there is still the possibility of reducing five emergency dispatch positions. Mayor Ron Behm agreed.

Dissenting from the vote were Councilmen Jon Tassler, Patrick McColley and Christopher Ridley.

Behm then asked if he could veto the action, but Heath said the mayor’s veto powers only apply to ordinance and resolutions. In order to veto, he would have to veto the entire budget when it was voted on by council.

Council also approved $22,700 for the municipal court to make some staffing changes that entail taking one part-time employee to full-time but also reducing the hours of one bailiff. That measure was approved 6-1, with Councilman Travis Sheaffer dissenting.

A $10,000 proposal to market the city was also approved. Behm will present a plan to council within the next couple of weeks with some ideas on how to spend the money effectively.

Council also okayed $50,000 to be put into a reserve fund to eventually pay for a new salt storage shed.

The mayor may present the budget to council at its next meeting Monday.

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