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Section A: General News


Council contemplates new service department




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Wilson County News
July 17, 2013 | 1,375 views | Post a comment

FLORESVILLE -- As they wrestle with adopting zero-based budgeting and reducing the city’s deficit, members of the Floresville City Council and city employees are contemplating creating a vehicle service department to manage vehicle costs and use. A quorum of the Floresville City Council met July 11 for a third workshop to prepare the 2013-14 fiscal budget.

The council is considering establishing the new service department to contain repair costs, as well as to better monitor mileage and fuel use and costs. The salary and benefits were originally included in the streets budget, but would be allocated to this new department, should it be created. The city has a “garage/city shop division,” part of the public works department at present.

City Comptroller Lara Feagins said that the water/sewage department is not paying its share for truck maintenance.

If the council establishes this department, capital needs include a computer, printer, Internet service, and fleet software, estimated at more than $5,000.

Fueling options also were discussed. The council is considering fuel cards or updating the fuel equipment, including pumps, tanks, and meters. City Manager Andy Joslin and Feagins spoke in favor of gas cards, since this method will allow the city to track each department’s activity more accurately. If new pumps and systems are pursued, costs are estimated at $100,000. This is not economical, Feagins said.

At the present time, the city is conducting business with Johns Oil Co. for fuel for the city’s fleet. Councilman Eric Rodriquez was in favor of continuing with this company. Feagins reminded the council that the city must go out for bids, although Johns Oil is the only local provider.

Those present also reviewed revenue and expenses, as well as department and personnel needs. Feagins also presented the projected utility revenue of $1.8 million for the water department, which includes the rate increase approved in April.

The projected expenses of $1.6 million for the city’s utility fund include a clerk’s salary and benefits totaling $45,000. Joslin said the position exists, but the salary and benefits will now come from utilities funds, as opposed to general funds.

According to Feagins, the utility fund will have an excess of $251,274, the council is considering some options, including capital improvements. This, Joslin said, will be discussed in August and presented to the full council for consideration.

Rodriguez said knowing exactly where the money is being spent is long overdue. He also spoke of infrastructure improvements.

Employees’ health and retirement benefits are also under review. Currently, the claims are calculated at 17 percent more than the premiums being paid. Feagins, in consultation with Talley Insurance, is estimating a possible 30 percent increase in premiums. If this is realized, the city will pay $81,574 more in the coming year for the 61 employees and five retirees; this will have to be reflected in the budget.

Feagins suggested a decrease in deductibles to $1,000, similar to other municipalities. The council also is considering changing retirees’ benefits. If the city changes the current policy of “eligible employees with vested time, which reach age 62 receive city paid health insurance until age of 65,” those receiving this benefit will be grandfathered. This item reflects the city’s financial straits and the advent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- ObamaCare -- taking effect next year.

The next scheduled budget workshop is set for Thursday, Aug. 1. Six more workshops are scheduled for August and September.

In attendance: Floresville Mayor Diana Garza; councilmen Mario Morones, John W. Guerrero, and Eric Rodriguez; City Secretary Sherry Pollok; City Comptroller Lara Feagins; City Manager Andy Joslin; and Andrew Barrientes, Project Manager for New Development.
 

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