May 302014

By Tammy Gray

The city budget for the upcoming fiscal year has not yet been finalized, but Holbrook City Council members generally agreed to increase funding for the Chamber of Commerce and the Navajo County Historical Society during a meeting on Tuesday.

Council members continued their review of the proposed 2014-15 budget, which proposes a total of $9.9 million in spending, up by about $900,000 from the current year. The council did not take any official action on the budget, but gave staff guidance on finalizing it.

A total of $47,000 for chamber of commerce salaries and events is included in the proposed budget. That total covers $31,000 for personnel expenses and the remainder for Wild West Days, Native American dancers, the Festival of Trees and the Parade of Lights. City Manager Ray Alley noted that the money will come from lodger’s tax, and is available because the city will be absorbing the cost of the current director’s salary and benefits.

The city expects to take in $180,000 in lodger’s tax in the upcoming year. The majority of the money will be divided between the chamber, the historical society and the Navajo County Fair.

Historical society contributions are set at $32,400, which includes an increase in the usual monthly amount for salaries. Alley explained that the city had historically given the society $1,200 per month to cover the cost of personnel manning the front desk at the historic courthouse, but that had been reduced to $900 in recent years. He told the council that the society requested that the amount be increased back to $1,200 and that request was included in the proposed budget.

Alley also told the council that the budget did not include $10,000 needed to repair the heating and cooling system at the courthouse. He explained that the county may cover the cost, but the city may need to contribute.

Councilman Wade Carlisle asked that the city set aside $10,000 in general funds in case it is needed for the repairs.

Under the proposed budget, the city will contribute $40,000 to the Navajo County Fair, the same amount as last year.

Council members also reviewed the budgets for water, sanitation and wastewater. Revenues and expenditures for the utilities are expected to remain about the same as last fiscal year, with the exception of landfill costs.

Alley told the council that the costs of disposing of waste are expected to increase by about $50,000 compared to last year and that increase is reflected in the budget.

Utility budgets also include a total of $120,000 for infrastructure upgrades.

Alley noted that the city has been repairing and upgrading outdated infrastructure, such as pumps, valves and lift stations.

“We’ve been spending a significant amount of money just to get our facilities back up to 100 percent,” he said.

Council members asked that the budget be scheduled for tentative adoption on June 10.

In other action May 27, the council:

* Awarded a contract to D.W. Lusk for installation of a canopy at the library.

Alley explained that the bid by Lusk was higher than the only other bid received, but included a complete scope of work, while the other bidder proposed attaching the canopy to an existing half-wall that may not be designed to support the weight.

* Approved an agreement with Callie Jensen to provide personal training services at the city fitness center.

* Tabled a resolution regarding use of alcohol at the fire station to allow more time to develop a policy.

* Approved a three-month extension to an exception allowing a Holbrook police officer to take his vehicle home to Joseph City.

Police Chief Mark Jackson explained that once the department’s new officers complete training, it will not be necessary for a vehicle to be taken to Joseph City.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10, at city hall.