No new employees will be added by City of Cassville

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Cassville City Council voted not to allow the creation of any new employee positions, full- or part-time, until further notice at its regularly scheduled meeting on March 19.

During Monday night's meeting, Darelyn Cooper, city clerk and finance officer, presented the city's financial report for the first two months of 2012. The report showed that the city's cash balances have dropped $345,827 due to debt service paid in January and February.

The debt service payments dropped several of the city's cash reserves below the required reserve balances. The general fund is currently $17,467 below its $500,000 reserve, but that cash balance is expected to exceed the reserve requirement by the end of March, said Cooper.

The water fund is currently $63,568 below its $180,000 reserve. Based on budget projections, Cooper said she anticipates a negative water fund balance of $33,225 by the end of the year.

The sewer fund is $256,896 below its $180,000 reserve. At the end of 2011 the fund balance was negative $27,152. Based on budget projections, Cooper anticipates a negative sewer fund balance of $121,115 by the end of the year.

"In light of everything we have talked about with the budget shortfalls and watching our spending, I don't see how in the world we can justify the unbudgeted expense for the creation of a position that doesn't exist and is not needed," said Alderman Terry Heinz. "This is a slap in the face of the city employees who have not received a raise in three years and community members who are struggling due to the economy and a water and sewer increase.

"I make a motion that we not allow the creation of any new employee positions, including temporary and part-time, until further notice," said Heinz.

Alderman Jeff Parsons seconded the motion immediately.

"What are you looking to get out of this new position?" asked Alderman Ann Hennigan.

"We have part-time help here all the time, and we have money in the budget for part-time help," said Eugene Dilbeck, city administrator. "The tasks at hand are beyond the capability of the existing staff due to time. We have a lot of things we want to get done that we won't be able to do with our existing staff."

Dilbeck said funding for the position would be provided by the general fund.

Parsons asked where the money for the position can be found in the budget. Dilbeck indicated that all funding for seasonal work is listed under public works.

"What will this position have to do with parks, sewer, water or streets?" asked Parsons.

Dilbeck stated that funding for all temporary positions, including clerical positions, is placed under public works in the budget. The funding is most traditionally used to pay for temporary employees working in the parks system.

"Are you taking away from public works in order to offer this position?" Parsons asked.

Dilbeck pointed out that the public works department has received federal disaster funding that will pay for the employment of two temporary public works assistants.

"Those two positions will not cost us a penny," said Dilbeck. "We hire people where we need them and when we need them. When you are trying to run a city office, it takes man hours to accomplish the tasks that are placed upon us."

Earlier in the meeting, Steve Walensky, public works director, reported that one wastewater treatment plant employee has resigned from the city. Walensky said the remaining employees are working to assist Steve Henderson, wastewater superintendent, at the facility.

"Employees are rallying around Steve Henderson right now," said Parsons. "What is the difference here?"

"I appreciate you trying to understand what is going on here," said Dilbeck. "We hire part-time employees all the time to help us accomplish tasks to provide services to the community. If you want to restrict the administrative ability of managing the city, you can do that."

Alderman Darrell Ledenham said that in the past, the city hired Cherry Bailey and Jean Haddock as part-time, temporary clerical employees. Noelle Harmon, deputy clerk, said that Bailey filled in after Kelly Paul, former city clerk, left her position, and Haddock helped when two front office employees were on maternity leave.

Hennigan and Parsons both indicated that they were not aware of the clerical position until they read the advertisement for the position in the newspaper. Hennigan asked Dilbeck to list the critical projects that need to be completed and warrant the creation of the clerical position.

Dilbeck said that the employee will be responsible for the flagpole annexation project and uploading content to the city's website. He said that it is taking a considerable amount of time to complete the website because the individual uploading the content, Lynette Dilbeck, city economic development director, is working on the website part-time while balancing her other responsibilities.

"The only reason why she is responsible for the website is because it is important to the marketing of the city," said Eugene Dilbeck.

"I've seen it, and it is a massive website," said Mayor Bill Hill. "I agree with Eugene that it is critical to marketing the city."

Heinz pointed out that Lynette Dilbeck indicated the website would be completed in February. He asked why the deadline was not met.

"I was overly optimistic," said Lynette Dilbeck, "and I broke the site. It has taken some time for them to reprogram it and explain to me what I did wrong."

The clerical employee will also be responsible for collecting the names of property owners and mailing addresses for letters that will be sent to individuals who live within the Cassville Airport's flight pattern area, which was identified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

"This is an educational process that takes a lot of time," said Eugene Dilbeck. "We don't have the clerical support to get it done right now. We were trying to do it in house instead of hiring consultants. Most cities hire consultants."

Eugene Dilbeck also indicated that the employee would help with some tasks performed by Cooper and Harmon.

"I haven't submitted anything that requires extra help at this time," said Harmon.

"Everybody else is stretching to keep within budget," said Heinz. "I find it disgusting you want to hire an assistant for airport expansion and flagpole annexation. In these economic times, we do not need to do everything. We can slow down a bit."

Eugene Dilbeck said the council directed the city staff to work on the identified projects.

"In light of the financial conditions of the city, we can change our minds," said Heinz.

"It is a really poor time to add staff when we are asking everybody else to watch their pennies," said Heinz. "It is repugnant to everybody. I know it is to the employees and also to the community based on the comments I have heard around town."

Parsons said that the position would require the city to use unbudgeted funding or use funding that was budgeted for something else. If the position were filled, public works funding for this summer's seasonal employees would be reduced.

"It sounds like it would take away a seasonal position to free up the money for this," said Hennigan.

Ledenham reiterated the fact that the city would be receiving two part-time employees, who will be paid through federal funding, for seasonal work. Parsons pointed out that those employees will be working within parameters established by the federal funding program.

Heinz called the question. Heinz, Parsons and Hennigan voted not to allow the creation of any new positions. Ledenham voted against the motion.

In other business, the Cassville City Council:

* Approved resolutions authorizing pool repairs and a tree removal project.

* Heard administrative updates.

* Reviewed a list of properties located within 100 feet of city sewer lines. According to city ordinance, residents who live within 100 feet of the line are required to hook onto city sewer services at their own expense.

* Heard that sales tax revenues have increased 9.1 percent over those collected in January and February of 2011. This is an increase of $33,087 over 2011 and $15,007 over budget.

* Discussed a possible increase to the city's building code ISO rating. Dilbeck was directed to request a written letter from ISO regarding their recommendations and a summary of the differences between the 2006 and 2012 International Building Codes.

* Heard that Hill donated a projection screen to the city for future presentations.

* Received an update on work completed by the public works department in preparation for the heavy rainfall that has been forecasted for southwest Missouri.

* Heard that Harmon attended a new clerk's conference. She received scholarship funds to cover the cost of the event.

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