By Ken Ross, Managing Editor
There were several citizens in the audience interested in the 2005/06 budget at the special meeting of the Cherokee City Council on Wednesday but the details of the budget had already been worked out at previous meetings.
No adjustments were made Wednesday but questions were answered regarding the details. Ron Strickland, city administrator, explained that the budget reflects eliminating the part-time fire chief position, replacing that position with a volunteer chief, but maintaining of the two driver/dispatcher positions.
Eliminating the driver/dispatcher positions was a cost saving proposal that had been approved by the council but then reversed after public opposition.
More revenue will need to be generated in order to pay for the estimated expense of city operations under the budget. Fees for calls responded to by the fire department and for building inspection to raise an estimated $36,000 had been suggested at a previous city council meeting
It was noted that this will be on the agenda for the next regular city council meeting on March 22.
The budget also reflects an ending fund balance in the general budget going down from $40,000 to an estimated $28,738.
Strickland has been chosen by the American Public Works Association to be part of a delegation going to China in October. He will be taking a look at the infrastructure needs of the Chinese.
Strickland said that he will go on the trip at his own expense. He requested that the city allow him two weeks off to make the trip without that time charged to his three weeks per year vacation.
Dwight Varce, council member, suggested that a decision on the matter be delayed until more public input could be given on the matter of allowing the time off without it being charged to vacation.
Dennis Henrich, mayor, said that the council was elected to make that kind of decision.
Ron Johnson, council member, said that Strickland has not asked for much paid time away for such things as seminars and said he doesn't have a problem with granting the two weeks.
Two audience members had differing opinions on allowing the two weeks.
Linda Burkhart said that there is a cost to the city when the city pays salary for someone who will be away from the job.
Hank Hayes said that the trip could result in contacts that would benefit the community.
The council voted three to one to allow the time off without charging it to vacation.
Johnson, Bill Troth and Marty Zauhar voted for the motion and Varce voted against the motion. Doug Woods was absent.