Council held meetings last week

The Yuma City Council held a series of meetings last week.
The council’s regular meeting was held October 19. Five members were in attendance — Mayor Ron Swehla and Marc Shay, Dan Baucke, Daniel Ebersole and Tim McClung. MaryLu Smith-Dischner was absent.

Steve Hoch was not present because he had resigned, which was the first order of business for the council. Swehla read Hoch’s resignation letter, in which he states he has more public speaking engagements now that COVID restrictions have been loosened. Hoch, who splits his time between Yuma and California, wrote he would not be able to maintain his high level of attendance at council meetings because of the increased speaking engagements.
Swehla thanked Hoch for his service, and noted the only two meetings he ever missed were due to illness. The council accepted Hoch’s resignation.
It was then decided to seek letters of interest from the community. The deadline to submit those to City Hall is 5 p.m., Monday, November 1. The hope is to be able to appoint someone by the next evening’s regular meeting. Council members noted it was best to move quickly if possible so the new council member could get up to speed with all that is going on, particularly since it is the middle of the budget cycle.

More meeting
The council held an executive session at the end of the meeting in order to conduct evaluations of the City Manager, City Clerk/Treasurer and Chief of Police.
City Manager Scott Moore informed the council that the city’s new street sweeper has broken down a second time due to maintenance issues. He said it would cost $17,000 to replace the part, so the city was attempting to see if it could get something fabricated for less. He also informed the council the sewer cleaning truck needs a repair, but the city has a back-up plan to continue the sewer cleaning by contracting with an outside service if the city’s truck repair is not completed as soon as hoped.
The council accepted a SIPA Cyber Security Grant. It involves a three-year program in which the company provides in-house on-hands training for security on the city’s computers. Some software is involved. Total cost is $7,875, with the grant covering $5,728.
“We hate to spend more money,” Moore said, “but we feel this is important.”
The council approved its budgeted donation of $10,000 Yuma County Economic Development Corporation for 2021. Council members noted it was important for them to have a bigger role in the YCEDC to help with the direction the city would like to see.
McClung, who represents the council on the Yuma County Landfill Board, said the landfill has no cash for capital outlay, and currently is renting scraper service from the county. He said to expect higher fees, but is not sure at what level yet as the Landfill Board works on its 2022 budget.
Ebersole reported that a special health event for pets and humans was a big success the previous weekend. It was noted Quality Farm & Ranch Center donated the funds for licensing pets.
The council held a budget workshop prior to the regular meeting.

The City of Yuma and Yuma City Council hosted a Town Hall concerning the 2022 budget at City Hall, early last week.
A total of four people attended in person, and five more remotely on Zoom.
City employee Eric Metcalfe served as moderator. Council members in attendance were Daniel Ebersole, Tim McClung, Marc Shay and Ron Swehla.
Initially, there were no questions from the public, so McClung got it started by asking about the Council Budget. It is significantly inflated for 2022, at $950,956.

City Manager Scott Moore explained the city has received more than $400,000 from the federal goverment’s American Rescue Fund. The 2021 funds have not been spent yet, and city will receive the same amount in 2022. He said it will be up to the council to decide how to utilize those funds, so it was put in the Council Budget. The city still is waiting for more clarification from the feds before deciding on how to spend the money.
Citizen Barbie Corey had questions about Street Department payroll, which city leaders said was something that had to be corrected. She asked about reserves for Enterprise Funds, that if there shouldn’t be at a specific amount. She was told the city does not have specific amounts outlined for the funds, either through statute or city code. Corey asked about the splitting of salaries and the purchase of equipment among various departments. Moore said the city got approval from the city attorney before beginning that practice.
Shay said he has heard comments about the Yuma Community & Enrichment Center costs, so he wanted that addressed. Moore explained to change direction with the facility back to its more original purpose, and to get out of competing with private businesses for providing a place for big events. He noted payroll is lower now than it was in 2014.
However, Corey noted there were more employees there in those years, and now the $54,000 payroll is just for one part-time person.
Corey asked what is taking place at the community center anymore. Moore responded with list of activities, such as expanded Meet & Eat, more senior activities, a Spanish/English class, a health class, kids camps, arts and crafts, and more. He noted that COVID-19 slowed down use, but the plan is to use it even more.
Corey suggested possibly closing the community center, perhaps moving the police department there. She suggested the city could look at ways to cut budgets instead of spending.