Alva Review-Courier -

Questions, suggestions offered by Scribner on FY23-24 budget

• Councilmembers discuss holiday lighting


Marione Martin

Justin Scribner asks questions about expense items during the City of Alva budget hearing Monday night.

A public hearing on the City of Alva budget for FY 2023-2024 was held during the city council meeting Monday night. A a simplified budget was published as a legal notice on May 5 as required by law. The detailed budget was included with the notice of the city council meeting online at City meeting agendas are posted on this website as well as minutes of meetings and PDF packets which include auxiliary materials such as the proposed budget.

Next year's proposed budget is for $20,946,421, which is about $200,000 less than the current year budget.

During the hearing, Justin Scribner (the only member of the public commenting) asked several questions. "Line item for $146,000 for professional services, what is that for?" he asked.

Mayor Kelly Parker replied, "Services that we have to contract for, that people provide us. Some of it is accounting, some of it is audit, some of it is information technology.

"What about the dues and subscriptions like $28,000?" Scribner asked.

Parker asked him to clarify the line item which turned out to be in the administration section of the budget. "So this is in our utilities office. It's probably going to be our Encode system, the system that does our billing. All of our accounting software is in that system," Parker said.

"Is there a way to look at the cost of equipment, the operating cost?" asked Scribner. "The police department runs $162.22 per hour all year long. Without cutting payroll or other services, is there a way to reduce it? Just by one dollar is $8,760 a year. Just by reducing one dollar of the operating cost. Now, I'm sure nobody in here knows the operating cost of the trucks, what it costs to run a truck to Meno (landfill) every trip."

"I think we could figure all that. I can't tell you right now," said Parker.

Scribner, who runs a trucking company, said, "I can tell you based off my experience and my equipment, for me to run to Meno right now costs me $207 a trip. That's round trip. That's just to give you an idea. Now is there a way we can look at it and say, hey, how can we reduce these expenses? Fuel? I don't know how fuel is purchased for the city of Alva, I'm assuming wholesale?"

Parker said, "We buy in bulk."

"In the trucking industry, we do a deal called cost-plus. I don't know if you're familiar with it. Like fuel costs $2.50 wholesale. Cost plus ten costs $2.75 to buy it versus bulk. I mean sometimes you can get a good deal doing that ... depends on renegotiation of contracts," said Scribner. "I don't know if you guys have the possibility to look into that. And that could offset some of the 6 percent increase (Consumer Price Index) in future years. Maybe even enough of it to bring the costs back down."

"We're all open to whatever we can do to reduce our expenses and make our dollar go further," said Parker. He told Scribner this budget spends $200,000 less than the current year.

"The budget's great, but if you could figure out how to work expenses after the budget," suggested Scribner. "Even putting (cost-saving) in place today that would actually come in lower next year. I think everybody would agree that's a good deal. You know, you and I have had the talk, like when I hauled the waterline for you, I don't know how much I saved the city on that, $2,600?

"So it's working with people. I know the waterline, I run by a plant every day that manufactures waterline, twice a week. So if you were to buy out of Ulysses, Kansas, and the waterline would work, you could save money by going directly to the vendor."

"That's where we can't, we can't necessarily because we do have to bid everything out," Parker clarified.

"I don't know how all that works, but like I said, I am willing to work with anybody here to help figure out what your cost of operating is per vehicle and see if we can figure out how to get them lower, and maybe save the citizens some money, save the city some money," Scribner said.

"That's what we want," said Parker. "We approved last year's budget and we saved money over what we had budgeted last year. So I think we have to keep doing that."

"I do have one other question," said Scribner. "I noticed the police department jumped up almost double from what it was in 2001 on their insurance, like the health insurance. Is there a major increase?"

"Yes, there was," answered Parker. "Is it possible to send that out for bids to see if other people can do it cheaper?" asked Scribner. "We did send it out," said Parker.

City Council Questions

With no other public questions, the mayor asked if councilmembers had any questions, suggestions or comments.

Troy Brooks asked, "Holiday lighting – was that listed in the budget?"

"It's not specifically listed. If there's room, it can be done. If there's not room, it can't," said Parker.

"What line item would it come out of or what department? Administrative, I assume?" asked Taylor Dowling.

Parker agreed it would be from the administration budget, and Dowling again asked what line item. "It's not in the budget," said Parker.

"So I guess when we come back we can adjust that specific line item. What line item would it come out of and have to adjust if we do?" asked Dowling.

"It would probably come out of the contingency line item," said Parker. "It's not specifically in the budget. It only happens if we have excess money. If we move more fund balance over than we thought we would, things like that. That's the way we approved all the ordinances. It wouldn't be specifically utilized unless we had money in the budget."

Joe Parsons said, "A question on that. With excess money, you know the condition of our roads ... when do we have excess money? Because I think it will be a very long time before the city, looking at all the things that need to be accomplished, has excess money. I mean, there might be $10,000 sitting there, but is there a better use than Christmas lights?"

Parsons said he loved Christmas lights but asked, "When our roads are in the condition they are and our water's in the condition it is, talking $80 million, at no time in the foreseeable future will we have excess money, in my opinion."

Daniel Winters said, "There's truth to that, but I think that's very contingent on who you ask, too, and where they gauge the important of those. Because we did have a lot of people, when we passed that resolution, a lot of people upset that we didn't do Christmas lights before. And they would rather have seen us spending money doing that than not. It has some potential for us being an economic driver, especially if done well. It was in several communities across the state last year. Sapulpa made national news with what they did."

Parker pointed out the ordinance involving holiday lighting has already been passed. "That's not what we're debating tonight," he said. There were no more comments.

Parker said the budget still requires some work before it is presented to the council for a vote. It needs to be put into the form required by the state, and an accompanying statement will need to explain how and why the budget has changed from last year.

A special meeting is expected to be scheduled June 6-8 depending on the availability of council members to vote on the final budget.

A video of the entire meeting may be viewed at


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