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Saturday, 09 May 2020 06:26

Budget breakdown: City departments detail 4% cut to operations

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Hopkinsville city department heads gave more details to the Committee of the Whole Thursday about how they reached the 4% cut to operational expenses in their upcoming budget requests.

IT department: Although the department shows a 4% decrease in operational expenses, payroll expenses for the IT department show a 28% increase.

Hopkinsville IT Director Joe Grace plans to retire next summer, and a new IT director will need to be trained at a cost of $56,925.

In operations, the budgets for building security and hardware upgrades/maintenance will be decreased by $10,000 each.

Committee chair Phillip Brooks asked Grace how the decrease in building security could create problems.

“The previous mayor put $20,000 a year for security, and we mainly used that for the security cameras and door access control,” Grace said. “If we reduce that, we should be able to maintain just fine.”

City Administrator Troy Body said Grace made significant upgrades to the security at the municipal building in recent years, such as additional locks throughout the building.

Hopkinsville Police Department: The police department plans to reach its 4% decrease by budgeting $3,00 less on ammunition; $2,000 less on radio maintenance; and $5,000 less each on professional fees and supplies.

The department does show a 4% increase in payroll expenses, including higher pension costs and a new school resource officer salary at $80,382, which will be reimbursed to the city from Christian County Public Schools.

Hopkinsville Fire/EMS: Hopkinsville Fire Department shows a decrease across payroll and operations after fire and EMS employees were separated into two departments earlier this year by city council.

Both departments still managed by Fire Chief Steve Futrell who noted that by separating the two, the city can possibly retain more firefighters and cut back on fire academy training expenses.

“Most of this is all tied into the way that we reorganized the fire department by going to EMS personnel,” Futrell explained. “It allowed me to not have fire training academies. Most years, we have two a year ... but over the next two years, we do not see ourselves having a fire academy (training) just from stopping losing firefighters and still hiring EMS personnel.”

The county ambulance board will reimburse the city for 31 EMS personnel — one administrative staffer and 30 EMS staff.

By doing so, the department is expected to save $3,000 in training and tech supplies; $2,000 in equipment, and nearly $60,000 in overtime.

Futrell reiterated that the reductions are not a cut back on training for firefighters, noting that the department received a $200,000 grant that is solely used for training supplies.

“We’re mandated to do 100 hours for each firefighter per year, so we keep our training pretty tight,” the chief said.

Hopkinsville Public Works: City maintenance and street departments show a 4% decrease in operational expenses, with the biggest slash to tree removal and replacement as well as drainage improvements.

“We will have to reduce our services in those two categories,” said Public Works Director Mike Perry.

Councilman Paul Henson asked, “If we have a tree in the right of way that could be a danger to traffic, we’re still going to have the money to go ahead and take care of that, right?”

“Yes, I think we’ll be OK,” Perry said. “We usually spend about $25,000 each year on tree removal.”

This year, Perry said the city spent $22,000 of its $30,000 budget for tree removal, and $23,000 is budgeted for the upcoming fiscal year.

Nearly $11,000 less is allotted for drainage improvements, which include drainage in ditches and driveway tiles.

Brooks recommended sending out a public notice in the fall to remind residents not to put leaves in ditches for pickup.

“Ask homeowners if they would assist this particular year by not putting leaves in those draining ditches, which would create more of a problem for certain houses depending on where they’re sitting and flooding issues,” Brooks said. “I would hate that this particular cut starts creating bigger problems for homes, which will definitely cost people more than what we’re showing here as a reduction.”

Fort Campbell contracts: Hopkinsville Public Works recently secured an intergovernmental service agreement with Fort Campbell for road striping and road salt, which would cost public works $125,884 in payroll and $438,468 in operations.

Perry noted that the city will be reimbursed by Fort Campbell.

“Over the striping contract, we should have a revenue of $75,000 that goes back to the city. If the salt stays the same, we should have a $6,000 revenue increase from that,” Perry said.

Road striping at Fort Campbell should begin May 18, based on COVID-19 regulations.

Parks and Recreation plus sportsplex: Perry said the budget for parks and recreation was hard to estimate due to COVID-19 canceling many events and facility openings, such as Summer Salute, Summer Adventure Day Camp, and the season at Tie Breaker Family Aquatic Center.

Total payroll is down 6.8% and operations are down 25%.

Additionally, the sportsplex budget is down 13% after cutting one part-time employee and reducing or totally eliminating many expenses such as tournaments, leagues, travel, vending, catering, and more.

“We’ve been closed down since the middle of March, so that hurts you pretty good,” Perry said. “Hopefully, starting in the middle of June, we will be able to do a few small things at the sportsplex, but it’s all hinged on the governor and his phases. Hopefully, we’ll be back to full swing in July, but we don’t know.”

The city administrator gave kudos to the sportsplex team for securing a basketball tournament that would span seven states before the COVID-19 shutdown.

“Tab (Brockman), Tony (Henson) and Chris (Jung) had done a bang-up job lining up some really big events, so we took a hit and so did the community,” Body said, “We’d hoped to put those people in hotels and restaurants, but we believe we can get those back.”

Community Development ServicesConsidered a mandated agency in the city’s budget, CDS took the 4% decrease in its operational budget but requested a 6% increase overall.

CDS Director Steve Bourne said that is an overall increase of $43,582, equaling $23,000 in cost-of-living increases, $5,000 in retirement payments, and $20,000 in health insurance.

In other budget business:

City agencies took a 4% decrease in operations across the board. Bids for workman’s compensation and property and liability insurance went down in most categories. Chief Financial Officer Robert Martin said the city bids these out every three years. “The bids actually came in lower than what we’re actually paying,” he said. The capital budget for FY 2020-2021 revenue shows $1.79 million, while approved department requests from the capital fund will be $1.78 million. Hopkinsville Committee of the Whole voted to forward both the general and capital budgets for FY 2020-2021 to the city council. The committee also voted to give city employees a 1.25% cost-of-living increase in the next fiscal year, which begins June 1.

Written by the Kentucky New Era

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Editor - Melanie Hilliard

Thank you for taking the time to visit the KYFireWire.  I have a passion for all first responders and have spent 25 years serving my communities.  Please look around and feel free to contact me for needed updates.

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