After more than two hours of discussion the Clintonville City Council passed a balanced budget, Tuesday, Nov. 18.
The approved budget includes a total levy of $1.98 million and a tax rate of $8.62. The budget also uses $176,102 from undesignated fund balance. The motion to approve the budget also included language to have the Finance Committee work with departments, administration and citizens to replace the fund balance with like amounts by March 31.
The initial vote was 9-1, but Alderwoman Mary-Beth Kuester changed her vote after the final council member voted in the roll call vote. That made the final vote 8-2. Also voting no was Alderman Mark Doornink.
The budget that was passed was the same as the one the Finance Committee recommended when it met the previous night.
During the public hearing held earlier, no citizens addressed the council about the budget.
Much of the discussion during the meeting revolved around employee’s paying more for their health insurance, closing the Rec Center (Armory building), closing the outdoor swimming pool, and raising taxes.
After almost two hours of discussion, interim City Administrator Chuck Kell, told the council he didn’t feel the council would be able to agree at the meeting on the required cuts needed to balance the budget.
“I’m cautioning you that I’m not even sure if you are going to get there with options that will guarantee that the fund balance isn’t going to get touched,” Kell said. “I might have thought last week you could get there. After listening to all of you tonight I don’t think you’re necessarily going to get there.”
It was shortly after that that the motion was made, seconded, and passed.
Earlier in the meeting Doornink made a motion to have city employees contribute the first $500 of their HSA for health insurance. This was seconded by Council President and acting Mayor Jeannie Schley. The move would have saved the city $12,000 in its budget.
Kuester said she was against making employees pay the first $500 because the city has $1.7 million in its fund balance. She also cited that city employees won’t be receiving pay increases in 2015.
Doornink said he would like to give all city employees raises, but it isn’t in the budget. He added that if this were the private sector, and a business wasn’t making money, there would be no pay increases, and health insurance costs would be passed on to employees.
Kuester said it is not the employees fault that the city didn’t apply with the state in time to get insurance through the state.
In response, Doornink said if the city would have had a city administrator working through the summer, it would have been able to meet the deadline.
It was also pointed out that the state plan is not an HSA plan, but pure deductible.
The motion was defeated 4-5-1. Aldermen Bill Zienert, Phil Rath, John Wilson, and Doornink voted in favor of the motion. Amy Steenbock abstained.
Doornink suggested raising taxes by what is allowed by law, which would make the tax rate $8.86. He said he expects the city to transfer around $20,000 from the fund balance to balance the books for this year.
Doornink made this motion, and it was seconded by Zienert.
The motion was defeated 3-7, with Doornink, Zienert and Rath voting in favor of it.
A lengthy discussion took place regarding the future of the city’s outdoor swimming pool.
Alderman Greg Rose made a motion to keep the pool in the budget for 2015 and put it to referendum to the citizens as to what they want to do with the pool.
After some discussion Kuester asked Rose if he would split the motion into two motions — one about the pool in the 2015 budget, and one about a referendum. Rose did not split it into two motions.
The original motion was defeated 4-6. Those voting in favor of the motion included Rath, Steenbock, Rose, and Alderwoman Gloria Dunlavy.
A motion was then made to put to referendum in April 2015 to let the voters decide what to do with the pool.
That motion passed 9-1. Zienert voted no.
At this point there was confusion as to if the pool was still in the 2015 budget. After discussion, it was determined the pool was still in the budget because the council didn’t vote to take it out of the budget.
During the meeting, Kuester made a motion to close the Rec Center and take it out of the 2015 budget and make relocation plans for the groups currently using it. Krause seconded the motion.
After some discussion the motion was defeated 3-8. Wilson, Kuester, and Alderman Jim Krause voted in favor of the motion.
By the end of the week the city had already scheduled a special council meeting for Monday, Nov. 24. On the agenda were financial update and discussion and possible action on 2015 budget amendments.