April’s Minden City Council Meeting was a brief affair, with a mere four items on the agenda for the Mayor and Councilmen to review. This was also the first meeting for Councilman Wayne Edwards of Dist. A and Councilman Michael Roy of Dist. D since being elected by citizens of their respective Districts in the March elections.
Other than accepting the minutes of previous meetings, the only other item on the agenda the Councilmen had to vote on was to adopt Ordinance No. 1115, Accepting Public Dedication from 4 Docs, L.L.C. of a Sewer Main located off of Pennsylvania Avenue, which was met with unanimous approval by the Councilman.
Also during the meeting, acting City Clerk Micahel Fluhr provided insight to the Council about the city’s finances during his Budget/Financial report.
“You see that in each department, specifically on the expense side, we are under the budgeted amount or close to the budgeted amount which is good.,” said Fluhr.
“The amount collected this month for the month of February, is four hundred seventy-seven thousand dollars. For the previous year for the four hundred forty-nine thousand. The budgeted amount is five hundred and thirteen thousand.”
“Last month, we had a collection of four hundred and ninety-six thousand, so we are twenty two thousand dollars below last month. The collection response includes forty six thousand dollars delinquent taxes.”
Overall, the city’s sales tax is looking healthy thanks to a boon the city saw in January, softening the blow being under budget in the past two months. However, Fluhr did warn that a continued trend of being under budget in that area would not bode well for the city.
“Looking at the total after five months, the sales tax collection is still a hundred and sixty five thousand dollars above the budgeted amount, thanks to a tremendous amount in the month of January with seven hundred and some thousand dollars.” said Fluhr.
Still, you have to look that this is the second month in a row where we are below the budgeted amount. Hopefully it doesn’t continue that way, because part of the revenue for the city is the sales tax.”
He also provided an update regarding Minden’s general fund, stating that it would be taking a pretty big hit soon. This is because of the significantly increased energy bill that SWEPCO gave to the city, which they chose to pay in full to avoid paying interest.
“The 17.95 Million will change next month quite a bit. The reason for that is the huge electricity bill the city had to pay, to be exact, three point five some million for SWEPCO. The city did not use the offer from SWEPCO to pay it over a period of time because the interest rate … was 3.42 percent, which would have made, over a year, eighty thousand dollars, and we avoided that,” said Fluhr.
“The majority of the 3.6 Million is paid out of the cash accounts for the general fund and water and electric fund, but we also had to go into the reserves and had to cash two CD’s in the total amount of roughly eight hundred thousand dollars.”
As previously covered, the goal for the city is to replenish these accounts over time with a slight increase to resident’s utility bills over the course of 26 months. The alternative would have been to charge the increased costs upfront, which would have caused residents to see an increase of hundreds of dollars on March’s utility bill.
The budgeting process for the city is also starting this week. Fluhr stated that since looking at the budget last year, little has changed, especially on the revenue side.
“The revenue side is still short on money, so to speak, for all the wishes and necessities we would have to undertake. The budget will be tight,” said Fluhr.
During his police report Chief Cropper updated the Council members on the acquisition of vehicles for the city’s STEP program, stating that the vehicles were still being worked on to add the necessary modifications needed to enact this program.
During closing comments, Mayor Terry Gardner provided a reminder to everyone about the Cleanup Minden Campaign coming up next week, where residents will be able to take part in cleaning up litter and trash around the city.
“The Cleanup Minden Campaignas, as most of y’all know, that’s April the 12th through the 17th. We’re still looking for a few chairpeople in several areas. So it’s not too late to sign up. We will have our final get together andour kickoff party, this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the community house. That’s when we’ll pass out the trash bags and all kinds of stuff,” said Gardner.
“We have many churches and civic organizations and several city council members contributing, but we need to stay focused, not just this one week, but we need to keep all of our trash in our vehicles year round. Minden is a beautiful city and we don’t get that second opportunity when a new business is coming to town or new manufacturer, we only get one shot at it. So we appreciate all of the volunteers that have stepped up.”