GLASGOW – Glasgow's budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 cleared its first reading Monday.
The Glasgow Common Council, with relatively little discussion besides a sidetrack on economic development spending and structure, voted unanimously among the 10 members present to approve the document prepared by the mayor and administrative staff. Council members Freddie Norris and Sheri Eubank were absent.
Councilman Terry Bunnell asked a few questions of the city treasurer, who spoke from her seat in the back of the room. He wanted to know about trends in revenue sources, and she said the occupational tax withholdings had dropped to perhaps around $200,000 short this year.
“We have a couple of businesses coming in. We've budgeted $120,000 less year in that one category,” Stephanie Garrett said. “There have been a few little ticks up here, there in some of the others. Other than that, it's been about flat.”
Bunnell asked what major concerns there are in looking at the proposed budget.
“At some point,” Garrett said, “revenue will have to go up. I mean, we can't continue …. It's been this way for years now. We can't continue to …; we can't grow on the same revenue.”
She said expenses are going up but revenues are not.
Then he asked which departments are highlighted in this budget. Garrett said the Recreation Department has $500,000 for park improvements, the Plaza Theatre has got $342,000 for some lighting and other issues, and there are a few more police vehicles.
Councilman Joe Trigg asked about whether the city was still going to provide $55,000 to the Barren County Economic Authority, and that led into some additional questions and discussion about pending decisions about board composition and other changes to the interlocal agreement among the county government and the three incorporated cities within the county that established the entity. That topic was then put on hold, as the mayor said they were straying from the discussion on the budget. After that vote and others, later in the meeting, after an 8-2 vote to suspend the rules to continue the discussion and after comments from Barren County Judge-Executive Micheal Hale about the approach Barren County Fiscal Court is taking with the issue, the council members voted unanimously to have a committee consisting of Terry Bunnell, Joe Trigg and Gary Norman to work on the interlocal agreement in terms of what categories of individuals should represent the city with the economic authority, e.g. council members or residents at large, how many and and other details.
According to the summary in the ordinance, the budget includes about $16.4 million in expenditures from the General Fund, $210,539 more than estimated revenues, with the difference coming from the fund balance, or carryover from previous years. The total budget, which includes several other funds, anticipates $22.1 million in expenses, roughly $1,000 less than the estimated revenue for all funds.
The Glasgow Daily Times requested a copy of the actual budget, rather than the summary that is part of the ordinance, Monday afternoon and was told it would not be distributed until after the second reading. At that point, the budget already would be approved – or not.
City hall officials were advised that to withhold it would be in violation of the Kentucky's open meetings law and the newspaper was told they were researching it. The Daily Times later in the afternoon forwarded the case number of a decision from the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General to support the position that the document, once provided to the council members for their consideration, should be available to the media or the public. After the meeting, the Daily Times was advised by the mayor and city attorney that they would still await advice from the Kentucky League of Cities on whether the release is permitted. The mayor said he preferred to not have the detailed budget public until after it was approved.
In other business:
A hearing took place beginning 15 minutes before the regular meeting regarding Municipal Road Aid Funds and Local Government Economic Assistance Funds. It consisted primarily of discussion by and with Roger Simmons, superintendent of the Glasgow Department of Public Works, and information that has been previously reported by the Daily Times was provided on which streets are proposed for work with the funds.
Three new firefighters – Andrew Bagshaw, Brandon Glass and Dakota Rigsby – and one new police officer, Jeffery Childress – were sworn in by the mayor.
Second reading of an ordinance amending the budget ordinance for the current year was approved unanimously.
Resolutions authorizing application of two grants were unanimously approved.
Municipal orders appointing or reappointing individuals to various boards and other entities as follow:
• Jesse R. Brown, Ben Bucher and Robert M. Carey to the Board of Building and Housing Appeals/Stormwater Advisory Committee;
• Vickie Morrison to the Barren River Area Development District Aging Council;
• Thomas Grubbs and Tim Gooden to the Historic Preservation Committee;
• Ricky Houchens, Joan Norris and Candy Wethington to the Joint City-County Planning Commission of Barren County; and
• Richard “Rich” Everett to the Veterans Wall of Honor Standing Committee.