On Monday night, the Cassville City Council previewed the 2008 budget and voted to pay for half the cost of extending the city's water and sewer mains to the new Crowder College Watley Center campus on Business 37.
Mayor Tracy Holle opened up discussion about infrastructure improvements that would serve the site where Jerry Watley is currently building a new satellite campus to serve the Watley Center's growing enrollment.
"I've been thinking about this for some time and I think Crowder College's expansion out there is going to benefit the city," said Holle. "I think this would be a good project for the city to consider paying for half the cost of running sewer and water lines out there. It would definitely benefit the city and the community."
According to City Administrator Mike Hayslip, the sewer and water line expansion will cost around $162,000 so the city's share of the expense would be around $81,000.
Hayslip told the council the city had money in its restricted water and sewer fund to pay for the project. He also noted that sewer and water extensions in the north area of Cassville would contribute to the city's future growth and development.
"We'll own and maintain both of those lines within a year of them becoming active," said Hayslip. "The lines have been inspected numerous times and they meet city code."
Aldermen Joe Cavness, Pete Landstad, Herb Primrose and Sue Brattin all expressed support for the proposal.
"I personally think it's worth looking into and possibly doing," said Landstad. "I think enrollment (at the Watley Center) has grown and will continue to grow. I think it's well within the city's responsibility and foresight to look at helping with this project."
Primrose made a motion that the city pay half the cost of the water and sewer line expansion up to $82,000 pending annexation of the property. Landstad seconded the motion, which received unanimous approval by the aldermen.
Hayslip said Watley and the city were waiting for official plans for the third building on the new campus before annexing the property into the city.
"We'll be annexing the property once I get those plans," said Hayslip.
"Everybody is gaining value in this transaction," added Hayslip. "The college is getting additional space and the city is gaining infrastructure in the north end of town, which is needed."
In addition to voting on the Watley Center project, city council members reviewed a preliminary operating and capital project budget for fiscal year 2008, which was prepared by Darelyn Cooper, the city's finance officer.
According the budget document, the city is forecasting revenues of $3,640,000 for 2008. These revenue figures include a 3 percent increase in sales tax revenue for the coming year.
"We are budgeting conservatively and hoping for another good year," said Hayslip.
Year to date in 2007, the city's sales tax revenue has increased by 13.5 percent.
The city's proposed spending plan of $3,640,000 mirrors estimated revenue to create a balanced budget. The total reflects a slight increase over 2007 expenses.
This increase can be attributed to a 2.3 percent cost-of-living increase for city employees plus a 1 percent salary incentive that will be awarded to top employees at the city administrator's discretion.
The city will also be adding a new economic development director to the staff as well as an additional public works employee to oversee the city's sewer maintenance program. These positions will add approximately $70,000 in payroll expense.
The budget plan also includes several capital improvement projects totalling $484,615.
Some of the proposed capital expenditures include: two new police cars, $48,000; skateboard park, $14,000; bridge on Partridge Drive in partnership with Barry County, $58,000; Forest M Street repavement, $30,000; airport credit card pump, $17,000; airport runway seal coat, $53,565; new airport hangar, $40,000; replacement of two-inch waterline in Wildwood Estates, $35,000; sewer manhole repairs, $30,000; and old sewer line repairs, $40,000.
After discussing the budget, the council was directed to review the document over the next two weeks and submit any changes prior to the next city council meeting on Dec. 17 when the final budget will be approved.
In other business, the council:
Heard a report from Hayslip on the police department/City Hall expansion project. Hayslip said construction would be complete by Wednesday, Dec. 12 just in time for the city's annual awards banquet on Friday, Dec. 14 at noon.
Approved a bid for alum submitted by G.S. Robins and Co. of Kansas City. The city will be purchasing alum at 6.8 cents per pound delivered during 2008. Steve Henderson, wastewater treatment plant manager, had predicted the cost of alum could increase to 17 cents per pound.
Paid bills totalling $111,596.49, which included a payment of $98,294.83 to Lacey Brothers Construction, which represents the third installment on the police department project.