The Jenkins City Council found itself faced with a deficit of more than $500,000 for the current fiscal year when it received the audit report from Nicholasville auditor Rodney Welch at its February meeting. Welch, who was reared in Jenkins and regularly conducts the city’s audits, told the council that the costs associated with the city pool and other acquisitions in the past year had created the deficit.
Welch stated that whenever a deficit appears in the city’s accounting, there should be measures taken to remedy the situation and that a deficit this size is likely to draw attention from the state Department of Local Government, which oversees municipalities. Council member Rebecca Terrill Amburgey asked Welch what the council needs to do about the situation and he replied that it has paid for the pool and other things somehow and now it needs to make sure its budget shows every source of income and said it can be amended to show new income and transfers.
City Attorney Randall Tackett told the council that a budget is a forecast of the city’s annual income and expenditures and asked Welch how often the budget should be amended. Welch replied that the budget should be amended every time it is about to go into deficit or whenever new funds are made available to the city. He said that some of the expenditures had not been in the budget, but had been met as they came up, and added that council members have to pay closer attention to the budget because running a deficit is a violation of state law.
Welch said that in addition to expenditures on the city pool, the acquisition of a snowplow, a new fire truck, and a new garbage truck had caused the deficit of $523,000. He added that a sharp increase in insurance costs had figured into the picture, and that $990,000 for the pool over a two-year period had not been included in the budget, and it had not been amended to accommodate it.
“You’ve paid for what you have done,” said Welch. “You need to figure out how and amend the budget so it shows it”
Rebecca Amburgey asked Welch if the city was on sound financial ground and he replied that it would depend on what you considered to be sound. He said that the city has some rebuilding to do but again cautioned council members that they have to stay within the budget. Councilman Rick Damron said it is the “Obama Way,” to borrow money to pay debts and to pass them on to your grandchildren.
Mayor Todd Depriest told the council members they will have a long road to travel to get things back on track and will have to buckle down to get it done. He said there is still a lot of positive activity in the city.
In other business, Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering reported that bids have been taken for the Burdine Water Project and that the low bid was presented by Flo Line Contracting of Monticello for the amount of $911,410. He recommended that the city accept the bid and the council voted to accept it. Nesbitt added that the project will be paid for by coal severance funds and an Appalachian Regional Commission grant.
In response to a question from Councilman Chuck Anderson, Nesbitt said that old fire hydrants will be replaced in Burdine and on Lakeside. He also told the council that Phase IV of the Dunham Project is now funded.
The council voted unanimously to create the position of city administrator. City Attorney Tackett said that the city needed to redefine the duties of several non-elected employees and read an ordinance to create the positions of city administrator and city clerk, and to define their duties. All non-elected city offices will be created by ordinance and will be appointed by the mayor and approved by the council. Benny McCall was approved as city administrator and Chasity Johnson Phipps was approved to serve as city clerk. The city police chief and police officers will be appointed by the mayor.
In the City Administrator’s Report, McCall asked for an extension on clarifications he and City Attorney Tackett have been working on concerning the city’s nepotism policy until the next meeting. Tackett explained that the policy has been changed in a number of ordinances and said the need is to make sure it is compatible with them. McCall also asked the council to look at rolling over unused vacation time and to consider long-term disability insurance for city employees. He asked for a motion to allow him to move forward with getting information on long-term disability insurance through the Kentucky League of Cities and the council voted to approve.
Tackett also reported on the Dave Zegeer Coal and Rail Museum and told the council that revenues are down slightly for the past year. He said that the museum’s rental income was constant and the decrease was in gift shop purchases and in donations. The ending balance was $10,635 and Tackett said the museum still has a healthy financial balance and that no capital expenditures are planned.
Tackett also told the council that the Blighted and Deteriorated Property Committee will start meeting again on a regular basis and said he would like to see some new members come onto the committee. Anyone who is interested should contact City Hall.
In his Mayor’s Report, Depriest told the council that it needs to move forward on getting Blighted and Deteriorated Property going and that condemned properties need to be taken down and removed to open up space for new building sites. Depriest said that in the event the federal prison does locate near Jenkins, the city will need every available building space for new residents. He said there are some possibilities for new sites through SOAR projects and said the city has 11 acres for home sites in Dairy Hollow.
Depriest also announced that Channel 99, the Jenkins Cable Access Channel, is back in operation and the city’s Facebook page is being updated daily. City workers are still checking on the elderly as well.