City's Christmas lighting bill explained
December 23, 2022
Councilmember Troy Brooks wanted to pull an invoice for Christmas lighting from other claims being considered by the Alva City Council Monday night. He was just a moment too late to make that a separate vote.
Mayor Kelly Parker read off the list of items in the consent agenda including minutes of the Nov. 21 meeting, claims of $209,425.12, payroll expenses of $455,891.55, and two ASAP aviation fuel invoices for $36,198.17 and $32,152.09. Daniel Winters immediately made a motion to approve the consent agenda, seconded by Sadie Bier.
That’s when Brooks asked to pull out the Peak Environment invoice for separate consideration. City Attorney Drew Cunningham said the motion already on the floor would first require a vote. The mayor explained that voting “no” would allow the council to consider handle invoices separately. Winters asked if the mayor could address the Christmas lighting issue in his report, and he said he could do that.
The consent agenda was approved by a 6-2 vote with Brooks and Taylor Dowling voting no.
Later, Mayor Parker opened his report with a discussion of the lighting issue and the Peak Environment invoice. “I’ll just speak to the whole Christmas light process that we went through. I believe it was the October meeting when the council approved the holiday project resolution. I’d already had plenty of people ask me what we were going to do about Christmas lights, and so I reached out to Peak Environment for a quote,” he said.
Parker said he looked for others in the area that could provide the same service, including doing an online search. He found none.
“Lance Harzman had been doing that (Christmas lighting installation) for a few years, and last year he told me specifically that he didn’t want to do it anymore,” Parker said. “I didn’t offer to pay him. I said, ‘Would you shoot us an amount that you’d want to get paid in order to do it?’ He wasn’t interested at that time.”
Parker said Fire Chief Bryan Miller sought volunteers to help with the lights but didn’t have anyone step forward. Last year, the city street department put up lights.
With the quote from Peak Environment in hand, Parker said he ran the numbers on what it would cost to have the street department perform the work. He estimated 40 hours for them to install the lights and another 40 hours to take them down. Then there was the cost of new lights.
“Last year when the lights were stored they were not stored in a way that we could use them without significant repairs this year,” said Parker. “I think we have had some volunteers go through our lights and have made some use of some of them, but not many of them were able to be used.”
He said expenses for 80 hours of labor for four guys on the street department would have been roughly $5,600. He figured new lights at $3,200 which is what Peak Environment was charging. Then there was bucket truck rental which he estimated at $750. That gave him a total of $9,500. Parker said the Peak Environment quote was less than $2,000 above that.
“Comparing that, what it was going to cost us to self-perform, and knowing it would pull our street department off of their regular duties for two weeks, I made the decision to go with the Peak Environment quote,” he said. Parker added that he “had some assurances that our lights will work next year, and we won’t have to buy them again. That was the process.”
He explained the money for the project came from administration salaries. Since the city hasn’t been paying a business manager, Parker said, “It didn’t have any impact on what was budgeted for this year, and that’s the justification.”
Randy Stelling asked about the cost for next year. Parker said Peak Environment quoted a second year price of $8,250 using the same lights which will be stored. Stelling mentioned that the light installation incudes the water tower.
“To clarify, there’s no agreement for next year, correct?” asked Winters. Parker verified that there is no agreement. Peak Environment is storing the lights for the city, but if the city decides they want them back, they can get them.
Bier asked, “At budget time for next year’s budget will it be possible to budget some new décor like for the lawn and stuff?”
Parker said the budget is set by the council so they can put it in the budget if that’s what they want.