Alva City Council plans for next year's budget
February 24, 2023
City of Alva planning for next year’s budget begins about seven months into the current fiscal year. At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Kelly Parker presented a spread sheet of dates and deadlines for the process. He said Steve Ford, who was hired as city business manager later in the meeting, put together the easy to read form.
Parker said department budget worksheets and forms are to be turned in by Feb. 28. March 13-15 are designated as internal budget work dates involving Parker, Ford, Bryan Miller, Heather Bonham and Leroy Alsup. Fire Chief Miller has been overseeing the city departments in the absence of a city business manager. Bonham has handled the city office, and Alsup is working in an advisory capacity.
The city budget retreat will be held Saturday, March 25, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the mayor, city business manager, department heads and city council members participating. Parker said it’s planned to be at Northwest Technology although he hadn’t yet confirmed with them.
After publication of a legal notice, the public hearing is planned for Monday, May 15, at 6:30 p.m. The budget may then be adopted in the meetings to follow or at the next council meeting June 19. The budget must be adopted at least seven days prior to the beginning of the budget year on July 1.
Mayor Parker also said he will not be in town on the regular council meeting date of June 19 so it may be rescheduled, possibly on June 12.
ARPA Grant Approved, Locust Street Not Approved
Although the city had been told it would be approved, Parker said the official approval of the ARPA waterline grant has been received. It will pay to replace a portion of the waterline south of Hopeton.
Unfortunately, not enough completed survey letters were returned for Alva to qualify for a CDBG grant to fix the waterline along Locust Street. This grant is designated for low income areas.
Parker said the city as a whole is considered to have low enough income to qualify for CDBG grants without a survey so they’re hoping to apply for a grant to help with water meters. They need to find out if the project would qualify and are awaiting word from the Department of Commerce and NODA. The project proposed is to retrofit the water meter connectors to make them standard size so it is easier to get water meters.
Brady Appointed to Tourism Committee
All city council members were present for the meeting including Daniel Winters, Garrett Lahr, Taylor Dowling, Gail Swallow, Sadie Bier, Troy Brooks, Randy Stelling and Greg Bowman.
The Alva Chamber of Commerce selects two of the members of the five-member Alva Tourism and Convention Development Committee. Norville Ritter, who recently resigned, was one of those appointments. The Chamber has selected Angelica Brady to fill that position. Brady is the former city business manager and current CFO of Share Medical Center.
Winters made a motion, seconded by Stelling, to approve Brady’s appointment. The motion passed 7-1 with Brooks abstaining.
Budget Amendment for Fire Truck
In a special Jan. 30 meeting, the city council approved the purchase of a new fire truck. Tuesday night, they were presented with Resolution No. 2023-4 amending the current year’s budget for that purchase. Mayor Parker explained this is a budget neutral amendment that will account for the lease-purchase revenue and the purchase expense of the truck. Winters made a motion, seconded by Bowman, to approve the resolution.
Dowling asked which funds the money would be taken from to make it budget neutral. Parker explained the lease-purchase would be new revenue to the fire department, and the payment would be out of the fire department budget.
Brooks asked if the city had the cash to pay for the vehicle or if they should consider purchasing a used fire truck. Parker replied that the city does have the cash, but that money is in restricted funds. He said the city doesn’t want to get back in the situation of 2019-2020 when money was “borrowed” from restricted funds. He added the city does not have enough money in the General Fund or the Fire Department Budget for the truck.
When calling for a vote on the motion, Parker made it clear the resolution has nothing to do with approving a lease-purchase agreement. That has yet to be decided. The motion passed 6-2 with Brooks and Dowling voting no.
In deciding to purchase the new fire truck, the council also declared an older truck as surplus. Although the fire department had an offer, it was determined the city will need to advertise for bids on the truck.
More Budget Amendments
The council had two more budget amendments on the agenda. First was Resolution No. 2023-5 to zero out loan revenue and related capital expenditures and to account for grants to the city and the library.
Mayor Parker said the city never got the loan revenue of some $437,000 expected when the current budget was approved.
With a motion and second, the mayor asked for discussion. Winters asked why ARPA grant proceeds were listed as an expense. Parker said that was an error since it should be revenue. There was discussion about making the motion to include that correction, but City Attorney Drew Cunningham said there was already a motion to be voted on.
A couple of council members suggested the motion and second could be amended before voting, but Cunningham was unsure of the rules. Finally it was agreed that changing the word “expense” to “revenue” did not really affect the resolution since all the numbers were in the correct columns.
Going with the original motion, everyone voted in favor.
Another budget amendment, Resolution 2023-6, was to zero out the loan revenue and related expense in the cemetery budget, which is a separate fund. That resolution was approved 7-1 with Dowling voting no.
Real Estate Contract
A real estate contract selling some city-owned property to Wheeler Brothers for $3,000 was considered. This time, the survey included all the land, and the city had an appraisal of the entire parcel. Winters made a motion, seconded by Bier, to approve the contract.
Brooks said he was glad Wheeler Brothers was getting the land, but he still thought the public “should have had a shot at it.”
The contract was approved by a 6-2 vote with Brooks and Dowling voting no.
The motion for the council to go into executive session for discussion of the business manager employment contract was approved by a 7-1 vote with Brooks voting no.
After return to open session, the council voted to hire Stephen K. Ford as city business manager. See the separate story in this issue.
In the consent agenda, council members approved minutes of the regular and special meetings in January, claims of $211,866.27, payroll expenses of $194,086.53 and an ASAP invoice for airport fuel for $32,364.60.
Alva Utility Authority
The Alva Utility Authority (AUA) met following council adjournment. Trustees approved the consent agenda which included minutes of the January meeting, claims of $168,852.40 and payroll expenses of $51,956.87.
There was discussion about an agreement with Myers Engineering for the ARPA funded water system improvements at a cost of $57,500. Parker said this engineering cost cannot be paid through the ARPA fund grant but will come from the AUA fund. He explained that the engineering was done prior to the grant being approved so it cannot be paid from the grant.
Winters made a motion to approve the agreement, seconded by Stelling.
Dowling asked why the city didn’t go out for bids for the engineering service. Parker said the engineering work was already done, and Myers Engineering has a long history with the city. Asked for his opinion, Water Superintendent Drake Lewis spoke highly of Bill Myers, saying he answered the phone at 3:30 a.m. and provided needed information.
Stelling said Myers provides the “type of service like they lived here and invested in the community.” Winters said he’s been on the council seven years and in his experience, “They do a great job for us.” He added that their fees are not unreasonable compared to other engineering firms.
The motion passed unanimously.
The city was also asked to nominate a voting delegate and alternate to the Oklahoma Rural Water Association (ORWA) and authorize the delegate to make a nomination for a director to serve on the ORWA Board of Directors and to cast the official vote for the AUA at the annual meeting. Mayor Parker suggested Lewis and others agreed. In trying to come up with someone as alternate, Parker reluctantly said he’d do it if needed. Winters made a motion, seconded by Stelling, to name Lewis as delegate and Parker as alternate. The motion carried unanimously.
The AUA also had a budget amendment resolution to zero out the items related to the loan never received. Winters made the motion to approve the resolution, seconded by Bier. The motion passed 6-2 with Dowling and Brooks voting no.
Alva Economic Development Authority
In the final meeting of the night, the Alva Economic Development Authority trustees approved the consent agenda consisting of minutes of the January meeting, claims of $61,054.76 and payroll expenses of $13,726.10.