Vandalia passes balanced budget
Mayor Ramon Barnes, right, reads off the service plaque to Johney Baird, left, and Larry Baird.
The City of Vandalia’s Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance to approve next year’s budget along with this year’s revisions and transfers during its regular meeting held Tuesday, February 12.
The budget summary for “Proposed Year’s Money Only” shows projected revenues of $4,511,875, a $415,000 transfer of funds, $4,241,411 for base budget expense, and $251,792 for expenses (capital & supp.) for a net gain of $18,672.
In his presentation to the board, City Administrator Alan Winders said that overall the budget is balanced. He noted that the revenue exceeds operating expenses and resources exceed expenditures.
“It means we’re not spending money that we are not going to either bring in this year or that we don’t have in the bank,” Winders said.
He added revenues are flat while operational costs continue to grow.
“If there is a theme, it’s that regulation is costing the citizens and rate payers, the citizens of Vandalia,” Winders said as he also talked about the current THM project as well as the collection system.
He said it is expected the city might lose $60,000 in capacity credits in the Electric Fund for Vandalia’s power plant generators after May as the EPA looks to make a regulation limiting the city’s ability to operate the generators. The Electric Fund balance is proposed to decrease by approximately $224,900 to $490,657 as the fund was impacted by the cost of power purchase and utility bill write-offs.
Other miscellaneous factors in this year’s budget include the atrazine settlement, no lease payments being received for former CSI building, and no expense for county healthy to give savings of approximately $11,000 to the General Fund. The 3-percent wage increase is included plus 1 percent for market wage adjustments.
A contract with Laddonia police is not included.
While the General Fund balance will virtually be unchanged, the Park Fund balance will decrease by about $10,400 to $117,915.
The Jordan Waters fund balance will show $0, with only earmarks for the Tri-County Park, walking path, and council approved items. It’s proposed capital totals are $165,508.
Plans at the park include remodeling restrooms at $4,150 and a balance of an earmarked total of $13,440.
The total capital proposed is $1,647,404.
Winders also recommended the city continue to provide residents the service of a Driver’s License office.
Alderman Teresa Wenzel questioned the money spent with PCDA and Winders responded with the positives of the partnership that include work with the Highway 54 coalition.
Alderman Ron Stallcup asked about progress of city’s website. Winders said the staff is looking for a cheaper way to produce a website than a cost received in the past.
Demolition costs of $20,000 was asked about and it was noted that the total would equal about three to five homes.
Winders also talked about the Cost of Power Adjustment (COPA) graph and the recent increase trend after five years of stability.
Larry Baird Honored
Utility and Street Department worker Larry Baird received an official city resolution to recognize his 42 years of service to the City of Vandalia. He was joined by his wife Johney to receive his honor during the Board of Aldermen.
The resolution said Baird “has helped to shape many positive changes in how services are delivered.” It also noted that Baird had “brought honor to the city and himself through his labors.”
During a brief speech, Baird reflected on the city once having several gravel roads in years past.
City Administrator Winders informed the Board of Aldermen that the City of Vandalia has received an Atrazine settlement check of $236,119.64. There were 1,085 cities and towns part of the lawsuit, which received a $105 million settlement. The suit was filed against Syngenta.
He said the funds have been deposited in the Water/Sewer fund. Winders recommended to the board that the city not use the funds for operational costs but instead should use the funds for the water system.
He said the water system improvements to be made with these funds did not need to be determined at this time.
Winders noted the work of Darren Berry and Amy Rost for their assistance in getting the amount of money the City of Vandalia received.
Water Plant Update
Chief Water Plant Operator Darren Berry updated the council on water plant renovations.
He said the foundations for the new carbon and cholorine building have been constructed as well as the pumps and transfer pumps have been ordered.
He said the first blocks have also been delivered for the buildings.
Currently, most of the necessary equipment is on-site or on-order.
Berry said the basin covers and the Earthtec algaecide treatment are installed and are having a positive impact on THM’s and HAA5’s, which is the reason for the entire project.
With the progress, the Department of Natural Resources has determined it will require the city to execute an agreement in the form of an “Administrative Order on Consent” to make the upgrades necessary to reduce THM’s and HAA5’s. It is based on EPA mandates and guidelines and includes time lines and potential fines.
Berry said the city asked for four years and DNR wanted two as then both parties settled on three years.
He said he was informed that Vandalia wasn’t the only one struggling with the need for an upgrade.
“The project’s coming along, on schedule with the exception of some concrete removal but still we’re in the same budget” Winders added. “This is what we agreed with DNR a couple of years ago, and to plan it and now the plan is being executed. So now they’ve determined it’s time to do an Administrative Order so that we agree to do what we’re already doing. It’s important to note that when we call DNR and ask about these violations which we’ve continued to have with THM’s, they will say that it’s a (potential carcinogen) only if you drink two liters of water a day for 70 years… None the less, it’s an important issue for the Department of Natural Resources therefore it’s important to us and we’re working on fixing it.”
Alderman Teresa Wenzel asked if the city was still pumping water at the reservoir and it was confirmed the city still is pumping.
Approved Tax Rate
The Board of Alderman pased an ordinance to allow the city to continue to collect the current approved tax rate from Ameren Missouri electric customers in Vandalia.
The City of Vandalia had been notified that the Public Service Commission granted a tariff increase of 10.05% for Ameren Missouri customers, as Vandalia does have a few within the corporate limits.
An increase more than 7 percent triggers certain requirements under Missouri statutes to either roll back the rate of gross receipts imposed by cities on Ameren or to pass an ordinance maintaining the existing rates. The current rate imposed by the city on electric corporations is 5 percent The city reaffirmed this tax in 2011 for the same reasons.