02/19/09 — City Council considers basic needs as planning begins for new budget

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City Council considers basic needs as planning begins for new budget

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on February 19, 2009 1:46 PM

Goldsboro needs more police patrol cars and fire equipment.

That's what the City Council learned Wednesday during the first day of its annual retreat, held this year at the City Hall addition to save money.

But many of the members knew this would be a year that they would need to catch up on necessary purchases.

So when City Manager Joe Huffman asked the councilmen what their vision was for Goldsboro in the near future, they didn't list lofty ideas of high-priced renovations or new building projects.

Council members said they wanted to make sure that the city's citizens were provided the highest quality of necessary safety and health services.

Councilman Bob Waller said there are "several things we have to make sure happens."

"Water, sewer, fire, police -- we've got to keep up maintenance of what we have," he said. "If we don't do that, we aren't serving the citizens. And our information technology, we can't keep getting behind on that.

"And also the maintenance and the trash -- these are things we've got to do, so in my opinion, we've got to make sure these things are maintained."

He said council would just have to try and find ways to purchase necessary equipment.

"If we need a fire truck, we need to figure out a way to get a fire truck," he said.

And as Goldsboro police Chief Tim Bell and Interim Fire Chief Gary Whaley told the council of their 10-year-plan, along with all of the other city departments, they requested capital improvements for 2009-10 fiscal year, beginning in July.

Bell told the council he would ask for 10 patrol cars since the majority of the cars the department has now were purchased between the years of 1996 and 2002.

There were no police patrol cars purchased in 2003, three purchased in 2004 and six purchased in 2005. Twelve cars were purchased in 2006, but the city didn't buy any again in 2007. In 2008 and the beginning of 2009, the city bought six patrol cars.

Of the total 66 cars, a little less than a third of them have more than 100,000 miles, and the increased mileage costs more in maintenance.

So far in the life of the 20 vehicles with mileage marking more than 100,000 miles, maintenance has cost $74,533.

For the 10 vehicles between 80,000 miles to 100,000 miles, $18,779 has been spent, and for the 22 vehicles between 50,000 miles and 80,000 miles, maintenance costs have totaled $36,245.

For all 66 patrol cars, more than $136,000 has been spent, Bell said.

A new patrol vehicle would cost $29,281.

Councilman Chuck Allen asked Bell how many miles he believed a police car should have.

"When it gets past 100,000 miles, then we start having problems," Bell replied.

"Basically you think 100,000 miles is OK?" Allen asked.

"Well we've got 20," Bell said.

The chief also requested $20,000 to repave parking areas, $46,680 to hire an investigator, $82,000 to repair the heating and air conditioning system in the station, $31,038 to provide digital video mirror camera systems instead of VHS camera systems and $8,500 to replace radar.

Whaley told the council he would like to see the city purchase two fire pumpers in 2009-10 at a cost of $1.05 million.

He said he knew it was a high-priced item, but that the trucks were needed to replace the 1979 and the 1984 non-compliant pumpers and will make it possible to provide other non-compliant trucks in reserve status.

Whaley also included $750,000 in his 10-year-plan for station repairs, improvements and renovations.

"Stations 3 and 4 need renovations," he said. "The doors that we have now, the new trucks won't fit through them. ... We would maybe have an inch on either side to work with."

He stated that he would also like to see some new furniture be placed in the stations, since the current furniture is old and worn out.

"We have some (firefighters) bring in furniture from home," he said, but added that he didn't want them to continue to have to do that.

Whaley would also like to see $100,000 put into radios that would work with Wayne County's new communication system.

"The county supplies us one mobile and two portables for each fire truck," he said. "But that isn't what we need for each truck. We need a few more."

Rescue air bags and two administrative staff vehicles that all need to be replaced would cost an additional $75,000.

Other city department directors also requested items to improve their programming and services in their 10-year-plans for next fiscal year, some that were more costly than others.

*The Utility Maintenance Division requested $621,125 for improvements to sewer mains and manholes.

*The Water Reclamation Facility requested $616,275, including a debt payment of $360,000 to serve the Phase 11 annexation area, a mowing tractor, flow meter, platform, new equipment building, lagoon berms, mud pump and to expand the laboratory.

*The Recreation and Parks Department requested $611,000, including a $500,000 match for the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant if the city proceeds with the Community Recreation Center project, $50,000 for replacing the surface under playground equipment at Herman Park to a rubberized surface, $15,000 to do gazebo repairs in Herman Park, $15,000 to replace a car, $11,000 for a mower, $10,000 to renovate Herman Park restrooms and $10,000 for new trash receptacles at Herman Park.

The Engineering Department requested $608,000 to improve water lines on George Street and for new software.

*The Information Technology Department requested $332,000 in software, server and storage upgrades.

*The Compost Facility requested $320,400 to complete construction of two compost bays to accommodate excess compost.

*The Water Treatment Plant requested $260,000 to buy overhead power lines at the plant and for geotechnical supplies.

*The Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. requested $150,000 for a 10 percent match on the Union Station project and $100,000 to improve entranceways, wayfinding signs and residential lighting in the city.

*The Streets and Storms Sewers Division requested $201,300 for a new tractor, bush hog and dump truck and to install sidewalk on Elm Street from Slocumb Street to Claiborne Street.

*The Planning Department requested $140,500 for geographic information systems, a new laser printer and a new plotter.

*The Garage Division requested $75,000 for a covered parking shelter behind the city garage to store vehicles waiting for repair.

*The Building and Traffic Division requested a $31,500 radio conversion.

*The Sanitation Division requested $20,000 for a concrete pad at the transfer station for refuse trailer parking.

*The Paramount Theatre requested $6,000 for a canopy over the truck loading door on Chestnut Street and $8,000 for video displays in front windows to advertise shows. Theater director Sherry Archibald told the council that she hopes the Paramount Foundation would help with funding for the video displays.

*The Cemetery Division requested $12,000 to repave a section of Willowdale Cemetery.

*The Human Resources Department requested $10,000 for consulting services to assist with training.

After the 10-year plans were requested, Allen told the council that the city would never get close to its needs in capital purchases.

"What we need to do is borrow $3 million or $4 million -- it's never going to get any cheaper -- and everybody gets some of what they need," he said. "The question is -- how are you going to divvy it up per department? Somehow we need to figure out what everybody's true need is. The only way to ever do this is to borrow some money. And if you are going to do this, we need to do it now.

"The budget, at best, is going to be neutral and may even be at a deficit. And if you truly need these things, we need to go borrow the money. I'm proposing that we let (the department directors) come up with their one or two items that they need now. Then we can go from there."

He added that if the city doesn't jump in and make some capital purchases this next fiscal year, that the list will just keep getting pushed back.

Huffman said he would ask the department directors to prepare those lists in the next month.

The City Council resumed its retreat this morning.