Archive for Thursday, August 21, 2003

New positions made possible in city budget

August 21, 2003

The proposed budget for the city of Eudora includes the possibility of several new city positions, added equipment for the police and fire departments, and a possible new park.
Before the fiscal year 2004 budget's adoption, the public is invited to comment on the document at a public hearing Monday during the Eudora City Council meeting. The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. at Eudora City Hall, 4 E. Seventh St.
The mill levy is estimated to go from about 17.2 to about 17.8 in lieu of decreased money given from the state. Property valuations increased about $3 million during the last year. The total amount budgeted for the city next year is $8.6 million.
After a study session Tuesday night, City Administrator Mike Yanez said only a few minor changes had been made to the budget. Updated copies of the budget should be available soon at City Hall.
New positions proposed for inclusion in the budget include an additional firefighter position (not volunteer), a new Eudora Police officer and full-time department clerk, and a recreation program assistant.
Fire Chief Spencer McCabe, whose full-time position was accounted for in last fiscal year's budget, said he was making 80 percent of daytime calls alone. An additional firefighter could help out with inventory, recruit training and fire inspection, among other duties.
"We want to continue to provide better service, but it can't be done on volunteers," McCabe said. "They have full-time jobs and families. The police department is extremely valuable, but they're tied up as well."
Having a new patrol officer on Eudora's police force would allow the city to have two officers on duty 24 hours a day. Chief Greg Dahlem said the added manpower would also increase the department's presence on city streets and Kansas Highway 10.
At a study session last week, Council member Tom Pyle questioned the city's need for a second firefighter so soon after adding a full-time chief. Pyle also questioned the necessity of Eudora police patrolling K-10, a job he said would be better left to Sheriff's officers and highway patrol officers.
Other city positions include a public works clerk and a full-time meter-reader, as well as a recreation assistant. But Yanez reminded city leaders that the impending hiring of a new parks and recreation director would probably change the character of the department.
Council member Don Durkin said he thought the department could cut back on money allotted for contingency and supplies. Moreover, Yanez suggested the department look at cutting back on subsidizing programs by increasing user fees. He suggested charging the actual price for running programs, like sports leagues, plus a 15 percent administrative fee to cover costs the department incurs to run the programs.
"Some are going to complain," he said. "Ultimately, it will be a policy decision of the Council."
Recommendations for the budget's capital improvements fund include money for an east side park, including land and amenities. Yanez said he had talked with developers about four lots east of Church Street.
The fire departments could also stand to get new life-saving equipment, like an extraction tool, better known by the brand name Jaws of Life. McCabe said the tool was becoming common equipment for fire departments Eudora's size. Currently, the department has to wait on extraction tools to come from Lawrence.
"If something happened on K-10, it would make our department look a little unprepared," he said.
But the tool could come in handy at other times, too.
"It could (also) be a simple fender-bender at the car wash."

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