Directors hear first budget workshop
It is budget season again in Siloam Springs, and members of the Board of Directors have started the process of reviewing and passing a budget for the city in 2018 with a workshop on Tuesday. The meeting, the first of a planned series of three workshops, preceded a regularly scheduled Board of Directors meeting.
Tuesday’s budget workshop started with a presentation by City Administrator Phillip Patterson and Finance Director Christina Petriches. In this year’s budget process, staff initially drew up a budget that would have been $800,000 in the red, Patterson said. That budget included all proposed projects and around $500,000 in new personnel requests.
Staff took that budget, reviewed and eliminated some capital requests, adjusted some revenue estimations and deleted all of the personnel requests. From the new stripped-down draft, staff created a new budget, only to have to readjust when the announcement of the closure of a Siloam Springs plant operated by Del Monte meant that projected revenues would be lower than expected.
The current draft of the budget includes new positions for three full-time firefighters and a new sanitation driver. The budget draft includes a projected $800,000 surplus to be placed in reserve for projects that do not have dedicated funding sources, Patterson said.
The budget draft includes a 3 percent wage increase. One percent of that raise was covered by a pay plan that was adopted by the board during the subsequent meeting, and the rest is a 2 percent across-the-board pay raise.
That 1 percent came as a result of a resolution adopted by directors at the end of the Oct. 3 meeting. According to the city staff report, the city did not have a formal compensation plan before Tuesday’s meeting, when directors adopted a range of pay for each position employed by the city and raised the pay of employees that were making less than the bottom of their pay range.
Siloam Springs Human Resources Manager Adrienne Barr, who presented the plan, said staff arrived at their pay ranges by comparing the pay offered by peer cities. The plan also made similar positions’ pay consistent across departments, Barr said. The pay plan was unanimously approved. Bringing each of the city’s employees who were being paid less than their pay range up to the minimum will cost the city $132,426.02 after benefits are factored into the cost.
Directors also considered four ordinances, covering two topics. The first pair of ordinances covered Medical Marijuana zoning codes, and were placed on their third readings and adopted. Senior Planner Ben Rhoads said the city had received no feedback from citizens since the last time the ordinance was read.
The second pair of ordinances were placed on their second of three readings. The set of ordinances will, if adopted, update the city’s zoning and building codes as they relate to manufactured homes, introducing requirements like lower population density, more landscaping and more modern building
standards. The ordinances were both placed on their second readings unanimously.
Director Steve Beers said he was asked about the purpose of a requirement for future manufactured home developments that there be extra space provided for parking. Rhoads said the requirement came from a survey of the zoning codes of similar cities and towns and the space was required for residents to park cars, boats and other vehicles.
“I’m pleased to see citizens getting involved, showing concerns and then watching as the city addresses those concerns,” said Director Brad Burns.
Directors also approved a contract for the construction of a storage shed that will be used to store asphalt and milling equipment. The shed is needed to protect more than $1 million in equipment, said Street Superintendent Dennis Kindy. The contract, which came in under budget at $72,434.25, was awarded to the same company that built the winterweather storage building that was approved last December.