Council Approves City Secretary Canidate
The Olney City Council interviewed Tim Houston as a candidate for City Secretary on Monday, Aug. 8, at the regularly scheduled meeting, and after deliberation has decided to move forward with Houston. The terms and details of Houston’s hiring will be negotiated with City Administrator Danny Parker in the weeks ahead.
The rest of the city council meeting centered around the budget workshop. The budget is getting closer to finalized, but some odds and ends and numbers are still being worked through. The new budget year starts Oct. 1, and the tax rate must be published by the middle of September.
The council hopes by the next meeting to have the tax rate set and a better understanding of the budgetary numbers.
Most of the budget conversation centered around water and sewage rates.
“Truth of the matter is we are going to have to find more revenue,” Mayor Pro Tem Jeff McClatchy said. “Either by selling more water or finding it somewhere.”
The city has seen a large increase in revenue in the past month in the water department. The month’s revenue was near $80,000, which is an increase in about $10-12,000 in revenue. The city hopes that with the lake being full that the revenue from water use will become a more permanent increase.
“It’s a roll of the dice to see if water will take care of itself. I believe it will,” McClatchy said.
Mayor Phil Jeske believes the city is in a good position. He suggests to lower base rates for water and to leave the usage increase. “We will not adversely affect our water revenue on the budget,” Jeske said.
The Mayor also stressed that the debate regarding water doesn’t have to be done “before the city has it’s budget number where it needs to be.”
“I like the fact that those who use the water pay for the water,” Jeske also said.
There was also some conversation on the usage and rate water customers outside of the Olney city limits pay. Councilman Tom Parker asked if it was possible to get the numbers on what those outside the city limits are using and spending on water.
Moving forward, Jeske wants to come up with a single water ordinance to replace the existing six ordinances to make it easier to better calculate the rates.
Olney’s water situation is much better than in years past, with the lake being completely full. The lake was last full in 2011 before the evaporation started with the hot summer of 2011. The rate increases went into effect in May 2013. Going forward, water consumption and revenue for the city might be smoother and hopefully more consistent. The rest is in mother nature’s hands.