MAYOR AND COUNCIL
PUBLIC HEARING ON BUDGET 2014-15
JUNE 2, 2014
Mayor Cerino called the budget workshop to order at 7:00 p.m. In attendance were councilmembers Liz Gross, Linda C. Kuiper and Samuel T. Shoge, W. S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, Patricia Diver, Director of Finance, Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk and guests.
Ms. Mulligan read the public notice which ran in the Kent County News on May 22nd and May 29th into the record as follows:
“At 7:00 p.m. on Monday, June 2, 2014, the Mayor and Council of Chestertown will hold a public hearing for the purpose of presenting the FY2015 budget. The hearing will take place in the meeting room at Town Hall, 118 N. Cross Street. Citizens are encouraged to attend and make written or oral comments on the budget. The budget is available for review at Town Hall, 118 N. Cross Street.”
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Council held two (2) workshops on the budget and this is normally where the budget is explained to the public and any changes necessary are made.
Ms. Diver explained the general fund and how the revenue was broken down into different categories. Charts were also explained in detail. She said that there were details of the changes to the charts attached so the Council could go over line items as necessary.
Ms. Gross stated that $57,000.00 was being shown in revenue under Highways & Streets. She said that Schedule G outlined that most of that was coming from parking meters and parking fines. She said that staff should be given instruction on what the Council wanted to do with the parking meters, whether they decide to cover or remove them. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was $19,000.00 shown for parking meter fines and $21,000.00 in parking fines.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that in advertising for the retiring meter monitor position, the job description should be changed. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there were many other things such as traffic control, violations on properties, etc. that could be added to the job description. Ms. Brookes was retiring July 31st. He said that the costs were not removed because there was no direction from the Council on how to proceed. He said that a long time ago the Town began to cross the children at the school, but they were County schools and he did not understand why that was not the County’s responsibility.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the income to the Town may change as the County had an unexpected windfall and was able to pay off $7.1 million in debt. Ms. Kuiper stated that the County was afraid that the State made a mistake so there was a high percentage put aside in case they had to give it back. Mr. Ingersoll stated that paying off that amount of debt seemed to be an action that cannot be reversed.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that if the meter monitor position was not filled, the police would have to be asked to absorb those duties. Chief Baker would be asked if the police could take on those duties and then the Council can make a decision.
Ms. Diver reviewed where the revenues were spent and what percentage of the budget was used by each department.
Ms. Diver stated that the Visitors/Tourism changed to 3% because the Hotel Tax was moved into the revenue side and certain expenses were tied to that revenue.
Ms. Diver stated that Workmen’s Compensation was still at a 15% increase, but they were trying to get that number down before the budget went into effect. Ms. Diver stated that the medical insurance was reduced from the previous year.
Ms. Diver stated that under “operating” the total revenue less expenses was $19,551.00. Depreciation was showed for $292,547.00 and to cover depreciation, the Town would use surplus funds to balance. She said that as per direction of the Council, there were funds “assigned for capital purposes”. The fund would not be restricted but constrained for specific purposes.
Ms. Diver stated that the Marina budget had some changes. She said that the Marina had been run by Mr. Bill Landon, who was overseeing the entire operation. Mr. Landon left the Marina and fees and salaries had to be added to the budget since the last workshop session.
Ms. Diver stated that what was not included in the budget was the $75,000.00 for the sale of the apartments that would be transferred to the Marina budget. Ms. Diver stated that currently the Marina budget was deficient $104,602.00, but the $75,000.00 from the settlement would help with that figure. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Marina was running on a bartered situation with Landon Marine, who in exchange for use of the buildings and repair and sale of boats, was staffing the Marina. He said that because Mr. Landon left the Marina the Town was now dealing with a temporary staffing situation. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it was hard to deal with the Marina situation because the Marina was about to be taken apart and dredged.
Mr. Kuiper stated that there was an additional $55,000.00 in salaries added to the Marina. She asked if the positions were advertised. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he did advertise for dockhands, but he thought there was a firm coming in on another bartered situation that dropped out at the last minute.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the 2 empty buildings, if leased, would bring revenue. He said that could at least bring in short-term rental. He said that any costs that could be defrayed until the Marina was rebuilt would be considered.
Ms. Diver moved to the Utilities Budget. She said that there was an 8% rate increase for water and sewer incorporated into the budget. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the last rate increase was 2011.
Mr. Holt asked for clarification on the sale of the apartments. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the apartments were being sold to the same corporation that rebuilt Calvert Heights. The apartments would be purchased through the State and remain low to moderate income rentals, keeping the tenants in place. The units would be remodeled. The Town would receive $75,000.00 this year and a payment in lieu of taxes every year in the amount of $10,000.00.
Ms. Geddes asked about capital expenses, such as noted on Schedule R. Mr. Ingersoll stated that was some of the expenditures but there were more. Ms. Diver stated that the total was $482,399.00 and the details equal all of the capital items.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she would like a separate budget for Gateway Park. Ms. Diver stated that there was a spreadsheet showing all of the expenses provided to the Council already. Ms. Kuiper stated that money was expended but not readily visible like the Marina budget. She said that the financial situation this year (not being able to fund depreciation, and the additional expenses at the Marina), including $40,000.00 on the match for a grant, so she wanted to make sure the expenses were controlled.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Gateway Park was not Town property and had not been annexed into the Town. She said that there were more and more issues being brought up, such as hunting on the farm and the metes and bounds survey. Mr. Ingersoll stated that all of the issues have been resolved.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that if Ms. Kuiper wanted a full accounting of the Gateway Park, it would be provided again. Mayor Cerino stated that he did not think that this was the place to break out every line item. Ms. Kuiper stated that money was spent that did not come before the Council. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he did not agree with that statement.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Town was whittling away at the cash reserve. Mr. Ingersoll disagreed. He said that it was easy to say that taxes were not going to be raised, but the flat real estate was a known factor in this budget. He said that the Town has done well with grants and there were spreadsheets available for each grant showing expenses and reimbursements. He said that the Town has a wonderful reputation with all of the funding agencies and did not understand why this was being brought up as an issue.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she thought the taxpayers should know how much money was coming out of cash on hand. Mr. Ingersoll stated that was the purpose of the audit. Ms. Diver stated that when working with grant funding, all of the expenditures are reimbursed. Ms. Diver stated that nothing has been spent on the Gateway Park in a couple months, noting that reimbursements were not made until the funding agency had proof that monies were used on a project.
Ms. Kuiper asked if Gateway Park was going to be annexed into Town. Mr. Ingersoll stated that once the boundaries were finished the Town could annex, but that was an expense as well. He said that the grant for Gateway Park grant was on an extension as it was taking time to get approvals from the County, although a park was an approved use in that zone.
Mayor Cerino stated that individual details for a grant were not going to be part of the budget, but a detailed breakout for each grant would be provided to the Council. He said that it could be posted on the website for the public to review.
There being no further business, Mr. Shoge moved to adjourn the budget meeting at 7:37 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor