Council finalizes 2022 budget

There will not be any pay raises for City of Yuma employees as the Yuma City Council finalized the 2022 budget during its regular meeting, last week.
Mayor Ron Swehla, Mayor Pro-tem Marc Shay and fellow council members Marylu Smith-Dischner, Dan Baucke, Dan Ebersole, Tim McClung and Terri Frame all were in attendance in the council chambers.
The council unanimously approved the second reading of the ordinance adopting the 2022 budget and appropriating sums of money.
The General Fund expenditures were set at $4.063 million, which is $1.214 million less than 2021. Salaries are remaining stagnant as city leaders state it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep all General Fund services at their current level. The city will spend 2022 figuring out how to cut back on the General Fund in the 2023 budget. A ballot question seeking a sales tax increase in last November’s election was soundly defeated.
The city’s total budget, including Enterprise Funds and other funds, is set at $10.44 million, approximately $1.66 million less than 2021.
Capital outlay from Enterprise Funds in 2022 include $200,00 each for the water and wastewater line replacement program, which includes new street overlays when the lines are replaced. The Waste Water Department is anticipating $230,000 for a Total Dissolved Solids Remediation Engineering Plan being done in 2022. The Water, Waste Water, and Electric departments, along with the Street Department are have $25,000 budgeted to share in the purchase of a new skid steer. The Yuma Police Department has $60,000 budgeted for one new patrol vehicle. The Yuma Volunteer Fire Department has $25,000 budgeted for radio and bunker gear replacement, and $19,000 to purchase training items. There is $10,000 budgeted for parks sidewalks, $15,000 for a fence around the fuel farm at the airport, $5,000 for lighting at City Park, $5,000 for swimming pool repairs, and $20,000 for a parks mower.
The American Rescue Funds, totaling $874,446 when combining 2021 and 2022 (none of those funds have been spent yet by the city), initially were going into the Council Fund, but instead now are listed in a General Fund fund summary under its own line item as restricted revenues.
It has been stated the city will determine in 2022 how to spend those federal funds in 2023.
The Street Department budget is considerably lower than in 2021, mainly due to not doing any chip sealing and slurry sealing in 2022. The budget is about the same as it was in 2020.
The city’s sales tax is expected to generate an estimated $1.5 million in 2022, and property tax to generate $815,677. Other main revenue streams for the General Fund include $370,000 in ambulance fees (The city absorbed the Ambulance Department into the General Fund this year.), $120,000 in Highway Users Tax, and a new revenue stream of $49,000 in airport fuel receipts since the fuel farm was installed earlier this year. The General Fund again will receive a $500,000 transfer from the Electric Fund, which has been a standard practice for decades.
The ordinance setting the mill levy was changed from the first reading as Yuma County had certified the final figures between readings.
The county assessor has certified the City of Yuma’s assessed valuation at $26.6 million. The city set the mill levy at 30.640 mills, generating more than $800,000 in property tax in 2022.

Ambulance district/authority
City Manager Scott Moore and the council, along with city attorney Kathryn Sellars, briefly discussed moving forward with a regional ambulance service mechanism.
Moore asked for direction about how to move forward approaching other entities about forming either an “ambulance authority” or an “ambulance district.”
It was explained that an “ambulance authority” could be created by entering contracts with other governmental entities. It would have taxing power to generate revenue, but the tax would have to be approved by the voters. An “ambulance district” would have to be approved by the voters, as well as any mill levy tax it would seek to generate revenue for the service.
Council members indicated they would be interested in first exploring forming an “ambulance authority” with other area entities in Yuma and Washington counties. Sellars recommended starting with other ambulance service providers and the counties, as the more that would get on board with combining their ambulance funding, the less likely a tax would be needed, or at least would require a lower mill levy tax.
Moore said he will start the process of visiting with the other area entities.

More meeting
• Various year-end bonus options were presented to the council. A bonus of $250 would cost the city an estimated $10,000, $500 an estimated $20,000, $750 an estimated $30,000, and $1,000 an estimated $40,000. The bonus figures are are full-time employees, with it being pro-rated for those who have not worked the full year with the city and part-time employees.
It was noted that without salary raises in 2022, the employees probably deserved a high bonus, but at the same time the city is facing a budget crunch. The council unanimously approved going with the $500 bonus option, with half being in the form of Chamber Dollars.
• The council unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance amending the 2021 budget. The ordinance amends expenditures in the Sanitation Fund, appropriating additional sums of money to the fund. It is being increased from $461,875 to $525,000.
• Ebersole, the council’s representative on the Yuma County Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, announced the board has hired Shelby Clark as the new executive director. He said Clark is just 19 years old, a recent high school graduate who is now a college student studying photography. Ebersole said she has an impressive resume, including starting a marketing company while in high school. He said Clark has started the job, and was very excited about the challenge.
• McClung, who is the council’s representative on the Yuma County Landfill Board, announced there is a change in the supervisor at the landfill. He also said there have been some issues with the new recycling grant/program that need to be ironed out. The city eventually will be asked to sign a contract for the countywide program.
• The council will hold a workshop at 6 p.m before its regular meeting on December 21 to discuss the Chamber and economic development.
• A resolution approving an agreement with CMR Management and Consulting for building inspector services in 2022. A resolution amending the city’s 125 Flexible Benefits Plan, which the IRS has increased by $100, was approved on a 7-0 vote.
• A grant for $3,500 from Y.U.M.A. to help repair the flooring at the animal shelter was accepted, as we as a $5,000 grant from Y.U.M.A. to go toward fixing up the old Scout House at Lake Yuma as it eventually will be used for art projects.
• The purchase for an electrical switch from Western United for $5,680 was approved, as was the expenditure of $6,422.65 for the email renewals for staff and council, through the Statewide Internet Portal Authority.
• Moore informed the council the broken down trash truck has been fixed and is back in action, but the broken street sweeper still is not back in action, and the sewer vacuum truck still is being repaired.