Home » ARPA Budget and City Budget discussed in Council Workshop

ARPA Budget and City Budget discussed in Council Workshop

by Minden Press-Herald

In the workshop held each month before the City Council meeting, the City Councilmen, department heads, and the Mayor all gathered at City Hall to discuss the upcoming budget. This included both an update on where the money from ARPA was being used and going over wishlists that the city’s departments submitted to see what could be done with what was left in the budget.

Mayor Nick Cox shared during the meeting that for the first time in many years, the city would see a surplus in its budget. That means the amount of money the city is receiving is greater than what the city is spending.

“If we adopt the baseline budget as it stands right now, and I think it’s for the first time in many years, we would not have to actually pull out of reserves and have $450,000 to the good,” said Mayor Cox.

At the start of the meeting, the group briefly went over how the money the city received as a result of the ARPA was being used. A large part of the money has gone to the consolidated public works building. According to the mayor, phase one of development is almost done, with the city working on getting phase two of the project out for bid.

Around the same time, the city should also have plans ready to start working on their plans for the animal shelter, ideally with both projects going out for bid around the same time.

Some potential money from the ARPA may be freed up for other projects with the city applying for grants to alleviate the cost of working on the Shreveport Road water main. “We’ve applied for a DRA grant with a pretty good match on our part,” said Cox.

“So instead of that project being $650,000, if we could get this DRA grant, which they’re pretty optimistic we’re going to get, our match would be $155,000, so that would free up a half million to put towards some higher and better purpose in the city.”

Another area where the city is investing is in its airport. Being one of the departments that has the capacity to generate revenue for the city, in the past the council had agreed to invest in more hangars.

“A lot’s been transitioning at the airport. I will candidly tell you that Tyler, I, and Russell Poole, we’re learning a lot about the airport and we’ve got a good perspective on how all that’s working. Councilman Roy met with us out there too,” said Cox.

“There is money for airport hangars already in the plans. So we were able to shuffle some things around and with the city’s match, I believe we’re going to be able to build three very nice-sized hangars and really do some good at the airport.

“The council’s objective in the airport project was to take an area of the city that has revenue-generating potential and increase that, and I think we really will. Not only do I think we’ll increase the money from rentals, but we’ll also increase the money from fuel sales. The third component to that is we also get rated by the FAA according to how many aircraft are in our airport.”

Moving on to the city’s annual budget, the council and mayor started discussing the departments’ wishlists and which requests would be approved. Most of the meeting was spent talking about one department in particular, the REC Center.

The REC Center had a lot of requests, including automatic readers for the splash pads, batting cage pavilion covers, sheltering pumps from the outside, etc. The main discussion centered around which projects should get approved, with Councilman Andy Pendergrass being adamant that the priority should be improving the complex for the kids who use it, using the batting cages as a prime example.

“If you go around to any other complex, we’re the only ones who don’t have a covered batting cage. I mean, you can imagine right now being out there practicing in the cage how hot it is. Plus, when it rains or something like that, nobody can practice at all. But if that was covered, teams would at least be able to practice in the cages,” said Pendergrass.

“I don’t feel great about waiting. I spend a lot of time out there, and a lot of the money has been spent at the REC to make the REC employees’ lives easier, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of money allocated to make the experience of the kids better.”

Ultimately, the compromise was that most of the projects that were listed for the REC Center were approved, which would benefit both the kids’ experience and that of the people working there.

The meeting to approve the budget is set to take place next month in August when the council will vote to either move forward with the budget or send it back for fine-tuning. The meeting will take place at City Hall on the first Monday of the month starting at 6 PM and is open for the public to attend.

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