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Increase to REC Center fees discussed, budget balanced at City Council Budget Workshop

File Photo | Minden City Hall

The third and final budget workshop took place Wednesday morning where acting City Clerk Michael Fluhr presented to the Minden City Council the final changes made to the budget in order to make it balanced. Three of the five City Councilmen were not present for the meeting, those being Councilman Wayne Edwards of Dist. A, Councilman Terika Williams-Walker of Dist. B, and Councilman Vinven Bradford of Dist. C.

The main topics discussed in this meeting were the reworking of REC Center fees and membership and a decision to switch from purchasing vehicles to leasing them. 

When it comes to the REC Center, the main changes that took place is switching football out for flag football, as well as increasing the costs to enroll kids in the REC Center’s programs. 

This change comes about due to the fact that the funding the REC Center receives through taxes is specifically allotted for maintenance, not to fund programs. In past years, REC Center had been using those funds to fund their programs.

Once this detail was brought before REC Director Rocke Musgraves, he knew that he was going to have to make some changes, even if they weren’t necessarily popular. 

“The public will be upset about this, but I don’t think we can continue to do what we’re doing based on the money that we’re supposed to be getting,” said Musgraves. 

After consulting with other city’s Rec Programs and comparing their rates to ours, Rocek said, “I saw there was a big discrepancy between what we were charging vs what other people were charging.”

Some of the proposed new fees mentioned included $60 for flag football. $35 for basketball, $45 for baseball and softball and $65 for soccer.

They also made the decision to switch from flag football. This was a proposed change addressed in the first budget workshop, and after reaching out to people in the football community, Musgraves decided it was a change worth making.

“We have decided to go to flag football, and I’ve been meeting with members of the football community here in town to get that going, and that will save us some costs right there,” said Musgraves.

Another change that came about this workshop was the decision to lease vehicles instead of fully purchasing them. The discussion surrounding the topic revealed that both alternatives had their pros and cons.

While purchasing outright would get the city good vehicles that they would then own in the long term, for the same amount of money spent the city could lease far more cars and replace more of the fleet sooner. On top of that, the costs of maintenance would be lower as well as the lessor is responsible for maintenance costs. 

The city has a lot of older cars in its fleet, so the deciding factor when it came to leasing over purchasing was that they could replace more of their fleet in the short term.

In this meeting it was also revealed that the STEP program the Minden Police Department has been participating in is already bringing in revenue for the city.

“We had a telephone meeting … because the money is flowing in already, and we did not know where to put it,” said Fluhr.

In order to balance the budget, some bigger cuts were made in various departments’ funds for repairs based on how much they had used of the budget amount in previous years. 

Street repairs were cut from $280,500 to $230,500. Funds for a well project were cut from from $1 mil to $900,000. Base waterline repairs were cut from $350,000 to $275,000. Distribution repairs were cut from $200,000 to $150,000.

Lastly, Fluhr went over money that the City is anticipating to receive, however if they don’t it could cause budgetary issues further along in the year.

“The green highlighted amounts are money we are supposed to receive, but if we don’t receive it we will have to cut somewhere,” said Fluhr.

Some of these figures included $900,000 in anticipated STEP Program revenue. An increase in anticipated sales tax revenue from 2.8 million to 3.3 million. The city is also supposed to receive 2.15 million this budget year from the American Rescue Plan Act. The most uncertain budgeted item was 1 million allotted to funds received from Biden’s Infrastructure bill he is currently trying to pass through congress. 

While the City wouldn’t be able to advertise and have the budget available for public viewing long enough before the next city Council meeting, it won’t be an item on next month’s agenda. However the council and mayor agreed to hold a special session to vote on passing the budget sometime in early July.