Budget workshop focuses on spending decreases
by Gary Kent
Aug 23, 2014 | 967 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE – The City Council’s first budget workshop of the year Tuesday centered mostly on what departments at City Hall will be cutting from next year’s budget.

City Manager Jack Hamlett presented a list at the beginning of the meeting showing that 15 of the city’s 20 budget funds would be decreasing what they spend in 2015.

Two of the five categories that did not show a planned reduction in spending were contractual services – ambulance service and solid waste.

Hamlett said Angel Care Ambulance Service is asking for an additional $300,000 a year from both the city and county.

Hamlett said that is about a 72 percent increase. He and County Judge David Silva have been trying to work out an agreement that would place the two entities closer to paying half of the cost each.

The city manager said Silva had suggested that the county could come up with another $60,000, and the city was looking at pitching in an additional $45,000.

Hamlett then expressed concern over the fact that the ambulance company had not provided detailed figures to back up its requested contract price increase.

“That would get the spread closer to 50-50,” Hamlett told the council as he explained the suggested increases he and Silva had discussed.

That would be considerably less than the $300,000 increase the ambulance service is requesting, but that would be a good counteroffer.

“I like Angel Care,” Councilman George P. “Trace” Morrill, III said. “But I’d have a hard time approving an increase without them providing details to support their request for more money.”

Mayor David Carabajal and Councilman John Fulghum agreed with Morrill about the need to have more detailed information.

Hamlett said the current contract with Angel Care is an extension of the original agreement the city had with Southern Cross Ambulance Service. But that company later bowed out of the contract, and Angel Care stepped in to complete the agreement.

Hamlett said the company has a stipulation in the contract that allows it to receive a 5 percent increase each year, and Angel Care has been making that request each year.

He reminded the council that fuel prices have increased over the years.

Projected budget decreases reported on during the workshop range from lows of 1 percent for the fire department and 2 percent for the police department to as high as 48 percent for the municipal airport.

Hamlett said the budget has no allowances for pay increases for city staff members. But he said Bee County is considering a 5 percent pay increase for the next fiscal year, and the council may want to consider something like that to remain competitive.

“It’ll be tight,” Hamlett said.

The next budget workshop is expected to be scheduled for the end of the regular council meeting on Aug. 26.
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