YUTAN – The City of Yutan will continue to delve into the new fiscal year budget during a special meeting this coming Monday.
The mayor and city council have scheduled a 6 p.m. budget workshop for Monday, July 29.
A workshop was also held July 8 to start the discussion about some of the potential projects that could be worked into the new budget.
City Clerk Katy Neukirch said the process right now is compiling a priority list of items and then developing cost estimates.
One of the discussion items is transitioning back to a full-time police department.
Neukirch said Yutan currently has 12 to 15 part-time officers who each pick up at least two shifts a month. The discussion has included shifting to only two or three officers, but having at least two of them full time.
“It would be more consistent faces,” she said. “People get to know them a lot better and they get to know the town a lot better.”
The ultimate focus of the city, Neukirch added, is safety and to make sure there is adequate police presence.
But, this type of change would have an impact on the budget. In addition to wages, there are additional costs such as insurance, other employee benefits, supplies and fuel that have to be taken into consideration.
Those numbers are being worked through by city staff for continued discussion at upcoming meetings.
Staff is also gathering bids and associated costs for the purchase and installation of electronic utility meters for every residence in the city.
Neukirch said it was still too early in the bid process to pin down what the investment for the city would be, but the expectation is that it could have a beneficial return. a Currently, it takes utility staff several days to manually visit residences to read meters. Then, it takes more time in the office to manually enter all of those numbers.
Electronic meters should be a considerable savings in staff time. Neukirch said some homes already have electronic meters and other benefits have been realized too.
“It helps tell usage,” she said.
With the current system, a water leak may not be detected until a month later, when the meter is read and a high volume is noted. She said the new meters would be a better tracker for usage daily and help alert if a problem was emerging.
The plan would be for the city to pick up the cost of purchasing and installing the new meters. The city is looking into grants that could help with those costs.
Another utility related project is also being eyed.
Neukirch said the city has identified the need to do a utilities study.
With new housing developments and businesses starting up in recent years, and more on the horizon, the study would take a look at the existing infrastructure and identify needs for future growth. For example, what would be trigger point for another well or is there need additional capacity at the sewer lagoons?
The city clerk said this is something that might not be done this fiscal year, but it is a study that is needed in the near future.
At the first budget workshop, several park improvements were also presented. Those included both additional equipment and parking lot.