The Trenton City Council last night did not have a quorum for a special meeting called by Mayor Nick McHargue regarding the city budget.
A notice sent on Tuesday to the City Council, City Attorney Tara Walker, and the news media---- said the special meeting was to review the Mayor's budget.
Just 3 of the 8 councilmen were attendance last night--Travis Elbert, Jim Bush, and Kenneth Ewing. Others there included City Administrator Kerry Sampson, City Clerk Cindy Simpson, Attorney Walker, some of the City employees, Board of Public Works members John Kennebeck and Robert Day, Grundy County Commissioner Gene Wyant, the media, and some members of the public.
With just 3 councilmen in attendance, no official action could take place.
Mayor McHargue outlined about $100,000 of spending cutbacks he would make. That was followed by a question and answer session and comments.
The Trenton City Council's Finance Committee has held numerous meetings covering several hours in recent weeks in an effort to develop a balanced budget for the fiscal year beginning May 1st. That process still has not been finalized. Another Finance Committee meeting is Monday night at 5:30 at Trenton City Hall.
At this point, no salary increases are budgeted for City employees, and those workers could be subject to new or higher costs for their health insurance coverage. Employees are being surveyed about insurance options. The City has not yet received final numbers on insurance costs---although they could be up to 9.9% greater in the upcoming year compared to current charges.
It's hoped additional insurance information will be available when the Finance Committee meets again on Monday night.
It recently was announced there would be a 3 1/2% tax related to health insurance as part of Obamacare. During last night's discussion, it was mentioned the tax actually is on insurance companies---although it was speculated that, at least some of those costs could be passed on to those purchasing insurance.
When it was time for last night's City Council meeting, but just 3 councilmen were in attendance, Mayor McHargue mentioned the budget making process and concern about
Dr. McHargue noted he's been expressing financial concerns for 5 years. He mentioned he's proposed in the past such things as not paying elected officials and putting a cap on salaries---but the proposals went nowhere.
Dr. McHargue indicated he believes the proposed budget is being balanced, at least partially, on the backs of employees---something he does not like.
The Mayor proposes saving $100,000 by combining the City Administrator and Economic Developer jobs into 1 position, not paying elected City officials, and eliminating trips, conferences, memberships. He suggested those things would allow for some raises to be given.
As far as revenue improvements, the Mayor mentioned the Airport Advisory Board's consideration of hangar rent increases and fuel prices.
The Mayor expressed concerns about insurance costs, the price of regulations on utilities, and what he called the removal of $30,000 from a street maintenance fund.
Regarding Mayor McHargue's proposal to combine the City Administrator and Economic Development positions, Councilman Elbert noted the Finance Committee has tried to avoid doing away with any positions. But Elbert said he'd be happy to look at the Mayor's list of cuts.
Elbert is a member of the City Council's Finance Committee, along with Chairman Larry Huffstutter, plus Jacob Black, and Mark Moore.
City Administrator Kerry Sampson answered questions about health insurance plans available to City employees. Mayor McHargue described the range of health insurance payments as too far out of whack. He cited a range of more than $4,000 to over $13,000.
Councilman Elbert noted City workers are paying a lot less for their health insurance than non-city employees. He said the City covering health insurance increases has to stop. Later in the discussion, Elbert mentioned City workers receive retirement benefits in addition to insurance coverage.
Board of Public Works member, John Kennebeck, mentioned both the City and Trenton Municipal Utilities have been losing money---which he said cannot continue. He mentioned employees will need to pay more for insurance---and suggested they call their Congressmen and Senators to complain about insurance costs. He said it's not the City's fault. Kennebeck also indicated City employees pay less for their health insurance than what workers at his business pay.
Kennebeck also noted the Board of public Works does not want to lay anybody off.