Taxpayers get a break; preliminary budget passed

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
   In a move rarely seen, taxpayers got a break from local government on Monday.
   On a recommendation from Mayor John Shevlin the council, on a 4-0 vote,  moved to reduce by 10 percent the street light assessment.
   Each year NorthWestern Energy informs the city what they are going to charge for electricity for street lights. This year NWE has recommended a 10 percent reduction in what they will charge the city and the council passed that along to the taxpayers.
   On an 8,050 foot lot, the street light tax is approximately $61. The street light assessment is on your property tax statement and is paid on the first half installment.
   City aldermen, also on a 4-0 vote, moved to accept a preliminary budget. Not set in stone by any means, Finance Office Agnes Fowler indicated, “this is still a work in progress until passed at a public hearing.”
   Right now the bottom line for expenditures is $9,182,274 for FY2009-10. Keep in mind, this is only a preliminary budget subject to up or down changes.
   The budget is open for review and public inspection at the front desk in city hall during normal business hours.
   In other action, the council approved building permits for a variety of projects at 415 S. Main, 215 S. Maryland, 110 S. Delaware, 805 Mountain View, and 604 S. Delaware.
   Amy Salois was on hand for the Sandrockets 4-H Club. For a community service project the club would like to construct a sign for Keil Park. Council members approved the clubs’ request.
   Council members had a brief discussion on building permits.
   There have been two recent incidents of work completed on projects before the permit had been approved by city council members.
   It was decided that the council will take a diplomatic approach and write letters to contractors reminding them that all building permits need to be approved and passed by the council before any work can be started or done.
   The aldermen received a letter from the Port Authority requesting $6,000, as they have in the past, for a revolving loan fund,. The PA has loaned out a little more than $110,000 for entities that have added six new jobs and six part-time jobs. Two loans are presently being paid on. The council moved on a 4-0 vote to approve the $6,000 request.
   It was reported that interviews will begin shortly for a new water/wastewater operator. There were 15 applications received for the position, “but no one who is qualified,” said Public Works Director Richard Anderson.
   On a related matter of employment, Chief Gary Dent reported that an officer who has been deployed overseas is not coming back.
   His position was being held open for him, however, in light of the fact he is not returning, Dent was given permission to look for a replacement. He indicated he had received two good looking applications.
   There was a quick report from Councilwoman Wendy Judisch on a meeting with the Conrad and Valier library boards over funding. To the surprise of no one, they could not come up with resolution to the funding split that exists between the two libraries.
   They did agree to meet again at a future date. The funding issue will be decided by the county commissioners after the county budget is set.
   No action was taken, however there was a short discussion on people being allowed to raise chickens in their backyards. It would be hens only, no roosters.
   Councilwoman Judisch commented, “I kind of like the idea.” More information is being gathered before the council takes any action.
   The next regular meeting of the council will take place on Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m. in city hall, 411-1/2 S. Main Street.