Budget shortfall delays animal shelterDue to a possible budget shortfall, the proposed relocation of the Dickinson animal shelter will likely be placed on the backburner for at least a year.
By: John Odermann, The Dickinson Press
Due to a possible budget shortfall, the proposed relocation of the Dickinson animal shelter will likely be placed on the backburner for at least a year.
Dickinson City Administrator Shawn Kessel suggested the proposed change during a 2009 budget reforecast presentation he gave during the Dickinson City Commission’s regular meeting held Monday at Dickinson City Hall.
The commission did not act on the proposal, but Mayor Dennis Johnson, thanked Kessel for his foresight.
“I want to commend you and your staff for being on top of this issue and watching the numbers here and coming up with some recommendations, as you said, before we get too far into the year,” Johnson said.
According to financial projections, two revenue sources that directly affect the city’s general fund are performing below expectations, Kessel said. The major two underperforming revenue line items are leases, easements and royalties and the oil and gas production tax.
“Combined, these two represent a decline of $325,000 if they continue to trend as they are by years end,” Kessel said.
Kessel also mentioned municipal courts fines and interest earned would be down $45,000 and $20,000, respectively, by the end of the fiscal year if things continue at the current pace.
Accompanying the unbudgeted decrease in revenue was an unexpected and unbudgeted expense, snow removal.
“Expenses have been managed very well and they are not contributing to the further deficit, except one and that one being snow removal,” Kessel said. “The city has experienced over $130,000 in unbudgeted snow removal expenditures.”
Kessel said the snow removal can be paid for by a street improvements fund that has a healthy balance and cash flow, but it would still leave a budget shortfall.
Therefore he suggested the postponement of the animal shelter relocation, for which $300,000 is budgeted.
All of the projections and suggestions are based on revenues through the first three months of the year, Kessel said, and they could change.
“All of these figures are based on first quarter collections,” Kessel said. “There could be a significant change in the revenue numbers that we have shown. Oil prices could increase and therefore that production tax could also increase in later quarters.”
The commission said it would take the recommendations and their options into consideration and discuss the issues again at a later date.
Also on the agenda, Dickinson resident George Dynes approached the commission about the possible forfeiture of unused cemetery lots in Dickinson’s cemeteries for resale.
Dynes expressed interest in purchasing a few lots near relatives that are owned by an individual that appears to have no interest in using them or has moved away.
State law states that any cemetery lots that have been left unused for 60 years or more can be reacquired by the city, which owns the cemetery following appropriate notice being given.
“I think it makes sense from just an economic standpoint,” Dyers said. “But in our case we just prefer to have gravesites in that area because their available. And I assume that there are others that might come forward if they were aware it was a possibility.”
The commission will consider a possible resolution to reclaim the lots in question at a later meeting.
In other business:
E The commission was presented with information regarding the 2010 U.S. Census by Census employee Max Wetx. Wetx said on average, each person counted in the census is worth the equivalent of $1,000 from the federal government.
* Johnson proclaimed May as rural Traffic Safety Month as part of the Mobilization Safety/Click It or Ticket program.
* A presentation from Public Transit manager Colleen Rodakowski about Elder Care’s transition to a public transit provider.
* Presentation and approval of the March 2009 Financial Report.
E Approval of a new Change Order Policy, which will allow three levels of change order approval outside the city commission. The first level allows department heads and project heads to approve change orders up to $10,000 or 4 percent, which ever is smaller; second level, department heads up to $25,000 or 6 percent, whichever is smaller; and the third level, city administrator at $50,000 or 10 percent, whichever is smaller.
* Consideration and approval of Tooz Construction’s bid of $70,800 for the 2009 Sidewalk Improvement District.
* The commission approved the drafting of a letter to the North Dakota Department of Health’s Air Quality Division in support of the proposed GTL Energy plant near South Heart.