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BE Public Works projected budget down $50,000

By Staff | Aug 2, 2015

It is not often the Blue Earth City Council sees a budget proposal for one of the city departments that is a decrease from the previous year.

But, that is just what happened at the work session before the last City Council meeting on Monday, July 20.

City Public Works supervisor Jamison Holland went over the proposed 2016 budget for his department and it showed a $50,000 decrease over the current 2015 numbers.

“We don’t always see decreases of this amount in budget proposals,” Mayor Rick Scholtes said. “But it is certainly nice.”

Both Holland and city administrator Tim Ibisch said their goal was to bring the budget more in line with actual estimated costs for next year.

“We wanted the budget to accurately reflect what we think we will have for expenses this year,” Holland said. Ibisch agreed, adding that they went through each line item to adjust it up or down depending on what the 2016 costs will be.

Despite a $10,000 increase in salaries, Holland reported a decrease in numerous other areas.

For instance, more than $23,000 was trimmed from the street seal coating and crack filling budget line.

“We are doing a lot more blocks this year, 14 total,” Holland said. “Some of that had to do with detours for the Highway 169 project. This next year we will not be doing as many blocks.”

The budget also shows $10,000 less in the capital improvement line, down from $50,000 this year.

“We plan on purchasing two snow plows to replace ones that are 20 years old, and a tandem trailer that was home built, but those total less than what was budgeted for this year,” Holland explained. “We also cut $13,000 from building repair because we had additional money there for roof repair in 2015.”

Overall the proposed 2016 budget for the Public Works Department is at $855,738, down from the $906,005 that was budgeted for this current year.

Holland also gave a report on the proposed 2016 budget for the sanitation and health department.

This budget includes such items as animal control, mosquito spraying and recycling.

This budget was up just over $9,000, going from $109,847 this current year to a proposed $119,007 next year.

Most of the increase in the budget came in three categories: mosquito control, street lighting and recycling service.

“We have been spending about $15,000 on mosquito spraying each year but only budgeting $10,000 in past years,” Holland explained. “So we are increasing it by $5,000.”

The city pays for the cost of street lighting and Holland included an increase of $2,000 in this area for next year and says it will probably not be enough.

“A lot of the extra cost is coming from the new street lights on Highway 169 and the roundabouts,” Holland explained.

Several councilmen were surprised the city pays for the electricity for those lights. The total budgeted city wide is $50,000, but the city has consistently paid nearly $60,000 each year.

Holland also said there is a bump of $1,000 in the recycling budget, putting it at $41,000 for next year.

However, most of that expense comes back in from the state recycling monies and a small monthly charge to city residents.