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      7-28-07  

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor, aldermen engage
in budget battles

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

Platte City officials butted heads Tuesday night while going over preliminary budget proposals.

Aldermen went over the 44 proposed items and deciding whether they wanted to see the item move on to possibly be included in the 2008 budget.

The preliminary proposals must be approved by the board of aldermen before city workers can move ahead looking at the idea. The idea is then incorporated into budget cost estimates, which would later need to be approved.

“These are ideas some department heads have come up with and are looking for preliminary approval now,” said Keith Moody, city administrator. “These ideas are certainly subject to change. These objectives are collective, they don’t come from only one person.”

The discussion got off to a heated start with an exchange between some aldermen and the mayor.

“I know in your letter you say you take care of the residents money, Mayor,” said Andy Stanton, alderman, “but I just don’t see that here.”

“We’re all on the same side here,” said Dave Brooks, mayor. “Keith (Moody) and I have worked at this and we think the board should help us too.”

“Some of these I have helped you on,” said Kenneth Brown, alderman. “What you’re saying is it’s only you and Keith, but that’s not it at all.”

One of the major topics of the night was a proposed $17,000 welcome sign along 92 Highway West near Shiloh Springs golf course.

“$17,000 for a sign for people coming from Smithville?” asked Stanton. “If someone is on 92, they are going to hit Platte City anyway.”

“I don’t think it is that expensive,” said Brooks. “Besides we just saved $15,000 by taking out sidewalks in the CIP.”

“The sign at the Platte River was $15,000, and that was very cheap,” said Moody. “Here you would have to find someone to sell or give you an easement to build it and it would have to be large enough to attract attention.”

“I just think the traffic along 92 is not our bread and butter,” said Stanton.

Another possible option brought up by an alderman was to build a sign along Interstate 29 instead.

“If you build one along I-29, it would need to be a lot larger,” said Moody. “It would also have to be outside of the 100 foot right of way for the highway.”

After the discussion, the idea of a sign was tabled to be discussed later.

“If you’d prefer to see it tabled, Andy, we can,” said Aaron Jung, alderman, board president.

“We should temporarily sidestep it,” said Stanton.

Another topic of discussion by the board was over a proposal to spend $13,000 to promote redevelopment and new development with the Buxton group.

“Based on discussions with Buxton, I wouldn’t move forward with this,” said Jung. “It sort of a hard sale if they won’t commit money to the project.”

“It’s still early on this, the best case scenario is they find a match between retailers and the city, but nothing happens without a developer,” said Todd Sloan, alderman. “I don’t think Buxton is a bad thing, my two cents is this doesn’t make sense to me.”

“There are still parcels of land in the Platte Valley Plaza area that can be developed,” said Brown.

“I wasn’t sold on Buxton to begin with, and I think we shouldn’t have to pay for this,” said Stanton.

Under an original deal with the Buxton developers, the city would pay $10,000. It was suggested to amend the item from $13,000 to $10,000. The board approved the amended item with a vote of 5 to 1.

Another point of contention was a proposed $175,000 storage building for the public works and parks departments. The proposed building is 80 feet by 100 feet and 16 feet tall, next to the First Street public works site.

“I recently built a barn that was bigger than this, and got a bid of $53,000,” said Marsha Clark, alderman.

“We got two cost estimates for this, with and without insulation,” said Moody. “I am confident we can get this built for this cost.”

The parks department lost storage space when the city was forced to remove equipment from Platte Ridge Park.

“Given the state of what we have gone through with Platte Ridge Park, it might be best to table that building,” said Jung. “If we’re not using some equipment, maybe we could sell it.”

“I only have one piece of equipment we could sell,” said Dannie Stamper, parks director.

“Currently we have equipment stuffed in every crevice of every building we could,” said Leonard Hendricks, public works director. “We’ll put up with what we have to.”

The mayor was concerned about whether equipment was sitting out in the weather.

“If you have no building, do you have equipment sitting out?” asked Brooks.

“I have two refuse trucks that sit outside now,” said Hendricks.

“Many companies keep their vehicles outside,” said Jung. “As long as you keep them plugged in they’ll be fine.”

Part of the cost being so high was to account for a large amount of grading to be done on the site. Another idea brought up by Clark is to possibly build on another location.

“We could build at the base of Mill Street,” said Moody. “But that would be far away, here we can expand.”

Another idea put forward is to add onto the existing youth building along the south side of Branch Street.

“What’s going on with the current youth building?” asked Brown.

“We could easily add onto the youth building,” said Stamper. “We have several options there.”

Eventually, some aldermen expressed interest in moving onto a different subject.

“It is frivolous to spend more money on this,” said Jung. “Let’s move on, we’re beating a dead horse here.”

In the end, the board voted to remove the item with a vote of 5 to 1.

The board also approved items such as $900 for the police department to purchase a small business sized shredder and the purchase of an $800 decibel meter to enforce a proposed noise ordinance in the city.

The board approved an amended version detailing the removal of grass and installation of rocks, flowers, and drainage tiles on the north and south sides of the Civic Center. Another item will update the city’s website to make it easier to navigate at a cost of $23,000.

The board removed some of the items on the proposal. A digital projector for $2,500 was removed. Currently the city borrows a projector from the school district if it needs one. The board voted to see if there was a cheaper option rather than purchasing a $1,600 Photo ID machine to make identification cards for city employees and liquor licenses.

Aldermen also heard the following items:

The board approved the mayor’s appointment of Pete Strickland to fill a term on the Planning and Zoning Commission that will end in 2009. Strickland is a long time local businessman.

•The board approved the placement of four new benches along Main Street. Three of the benches will go in along Main between Third and Second Streets. The fourth bench will replace a current one between First and Second Streets.

•Preliminary approval was given on the City’s Cost of Living Adjustments for 2008. The changes would include an increase in wages and benefits. The increase in benefits is $20 per month per employee, this equates to an impact of $7,920 on the 2008 budget. The increase in wages is an average of $0.48 for each employee. All together the proposed changes would increase the 2008 budget by $34,798.

 
 

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