Link to city’s virtual town hall meeting

The City of Yuma hosted an informational Virtual Town Hall meeting, last week, focusing on the General Fund and the city’s enterprise funds.
It is available for viewing on YouTube. Find a link for it at the City of Yuma Facebook page.
City employee Candy Gilliland served as moderator. City Manager Scott Moore and Police Chief Jerry Thompson participated, along with Mayor Ron Swehla and council members Marc Shay, Marylu Smith-Dischner, Daniel Ebersole, and Steve Hoch.
Moore explained the General Fund receives its revenue from taxes. Overall there are a total of 39 revenue sources.
The Enterprise Funds — Electric, Sewer, Water, Sanitation — are funded from the fees paid by the customers who receive the services.
The General Fund provides for a wide variety of services, such as streets, library, police, fire protection, library, parks, recreation, swimming pool, city attorney and more. There are a total of 20 different budgets in the General Fund.
The participating council members then took turns answering questions presented by Gilliland.
For example, the last sales tax increase, which requires voter approval, was a 1-percent increase in 2004, bringing the city’s total sales tax to 3 percent. The 1-percent generates approximately $300,000 per year.
It was asked how much the costs of equipment and repairs has increased over the years. From 2003 to 2021 those costs have increased by 44 percent.
The costs of chip sealing the city’s streets has increase by 225 percent since 2003, and the cost of fuel has increased by 70 percent.
There were questions about the Yuma Police Department. The basic protective equipment for each officers should be replaced every five years. It was mentioned the desire to get each officer a heavy ballistic vest, helmet and shield for a first response when needed to serious situations, which would cost about $3,000 per officer for a total of $24,000.
Policing involves more and more technology, like almost all jobs and industries. The costs are in the tens of thousands of dollars for upgrades, such as the mobile data terminals in patrol cars, moving toward a digital ticket system, and effort to go paperless.
It also was noted there is not a lot of room left at the Yuma Police Department, which also houses municipal court. Putting up a new building or remodeling the current one would be costly. It was mentioned that while the YPD salary structure reasonable, it would not hurt to increase salary at some time to remain competitive.
Patrol vehicles should be replaced about every six to seven years. The YPD does have one patrol vehicle that currently is 12 years old. There was also discussion about the costs of hiring and training a new officer, as well as the continuing education for all officers.
As for the Yuma Volunteer Fire Department, it was reported that its budget in 2003 was $36,328, while now it is $75,000 as the cost of equipment keeps rising.
The costs of operating the Yuma Municipal Pool continues to increase, going from a salary of $67,000 in 2003 to $124,000 in 2021.
Equipment costs continue to increase for Parks and Recreation, and the operating costs and upkeep of the Yuma Community Enrichment Center has increased 21 percent since 2003.
It was reported at the end of the virtual meeting that the city will host a “hybrid” meeting sometime in the near future.