Southwest City's Board of Alderman held a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss the current budget shortage and determine how to fund the city's impending expenses.
City Clerk Missy Zinn said the council had $20,231.40 of bills to approve as of Tuesday and approximately $8,000 in payroll costs each week. She noted that the city will still receive revenue from sales tax and water bills in the coming months.
Council members reviewed the city's budget and discussed two CDs the city has in the bank.
The CDs were made in 2010 and 2013 with an amount of $25,000. According to the meeting minutes when each CD was established, the CDs were earmarked for the purpose of sustaining the senior center for one year in the event the city could not support the facility.
Zinn said she spoke to city attorney Bill Weber, who said that because the city made the CD, the city can use the CD for necessities so long as the funds are earmarked for such use when transferred.
"We've managed to keep the center open for nine years since the first CD and these funds will help carry the center for the remainder of the year," Zinn said.
"Had we not budgeted for the senior center last year, we could have money on the table," Mayor David Blake said. He went on to note that he doesn't see the city sustaining the center next year.
The council unanimously agreed that it does not want the doors to close on the senior center, but the city cannot support the expense. Alderman Judith Pendergraft said there is a group working to have the senior center recognized as a 501(c)3 nonprofit which would exempt the organization from taxes and qualify it for grants. She said the by-laws have been written and Bill Dobbs is reviewing the documents.
After much discussion, the council voted to take the oldest CD, in the amount of $27,250.99 out of production and transfer the money to the General Fund.
Resident Patty Burrow said she believed there to be more issues with the budget than just the misallocation of $40,000 in FEMA funds and the expense of the senior center.
"In order to make a decision, you need to be aware of all the issues," Burrow said. "This is taxpayer money and you owe it to the taxpayers to spend this right. I've been attending council meetings for 20 years and I've never seen a council unable to pay their bills."
Alderman Pendergraft agreed and said that is why the council called the special meeting.
Burrow said she reviewed the budget and believes some of the numbers are inaccurate or inflated, which creates a false sense of funds and leads to overspending. She stressed the importance of appropriately allocating funds to give a true figure.
Burrow and Ken Brookner also touched on the city's multiple sponsorships of community events.
"Tax money should pay for infrastructure, not for the Old Timer's Day Rodeo or the Third of July. Those are Commercial Club events," Burrow said. Brookner added that the club should pay for its own "parties."
"These little things are holding us back and preventing infrastructure repairs," Mayor Blake agreed. "And in the next budget year, I fully plan to get rid of these sponsorships."
Alderman Pendergraft noted that the Commercial Club provided documentation of the expenses for these events but does not provide statements of the revenue collected.
The council also discussed a temporary hire to fill in for Clerk Zinn while she is on vacation because there is not currently an assistant clerk. Zinn said she asked Melissa Lance, director of the senior center, if she could fill in but Lance said she couldn't due to lack of personnel to cover the center in her absence.
Mayor Blake pointed out that Lance is a city employee and said she should be able to fill in at City Hall for three days.
"We need city business taken care of. We can close the center for that time," he said.
The council also voted to appoint Alderman Pendergraft as an additional check signer in Zinn's absence.
General News on 07/18/2019