Four residents attended the Peabody City Council meeting Monday evening to protest the 1.77 mill increase in the city’s budget. Even though the mill increase was small, Norm and Judy Claassen, Delbert Mellott, and Judy Starkey expressed their desire to see the budget cut rather than take a small jump or even remain where it has been.
“I don’t mind paying my share,” Starkey said. “I served on the council and I know that it is hard to stretch the money to cover everything. But the city’s budget is like my budget at home. When it gets tighter and tighter, something has to give. We don’t always get to have everything we want.”
Most of the complaints were about salaries and employee benefits.
“No one should be getting a raise in this economy,” Mellott said.
The Claassens expressed the opinion that the police department was over-staffed.
“I never see where they have done anything,” said Norm Claassen. “After a whole week or maybe two, there are only two or three items written up in the paper for a police report. What are they doing?
“And what happened to the idea of having them keep track of nuisance properties and mowing violations when they are out driving the streets? I thought you were going to consider that instead of replacing the Health and Safety Officer.”
The council listened to the group for about an hour. Councilman Tom Schmidt asked them to consider attending the budget work sessions in 2012 to offer their criticisms and suggestions as the council works on coming up with the 2013 budget.
“We started this process in April,” he said. “I think we had 10 or 12 meetings. They were open meetings. What you are seeing here tonight is the result of all of those meetings. We are required by law to have this done and published by a certain time. It would be nearly impossible to change the whole thing now.
“But if these issues are important to you and you want changes then I would invite you to sit in on them next year and tell us what you think,” he added.
Mayor Larry Larsen thanked the group for coming and speaking up and echoed Schmidt’s invitation. “We do like to hear from the community,” he said. “And we appreciate you coming in here to tell us how you feel.”
Larsen closed the public hearing and during the regularly scheduled city council meeting, the council approved the 2012 budget 4-1, with Pam Lamborn voting against approval.
In other business:
- Tammy Britton requested a credit for part of the sewer charges on her water bill. She filled a large aboveground pool from her residential water service, but the water did not go through the sanitary sewer system when the pool was drained. The council denied the request. The city will only grant credit if there is a water leak at the residence and sewer charges are added. “In a case like this, the resident has made a choice to use city water,” Schmidt said. “It is like washing a car or watering a garden. The water does not go through the sewer system with them either, but we don’t offer a rebate on the charges.”
- Mayor Larsen presented a project the Peabody-Burns Senior Class would like to work on during the coming school year. The students would like to paint house numbers and a Warrior head on the city curbs, using stencils. The council gave its approval as long as the students understand they must check with the homeowner before proceeding. The seniors plan to make it a public service project and there will be no charge to the residents.
- The city was notified by the state of Kansas that the cost of raw water will go up about four cents per 1,000 gallons in 2012. Manning noted that in 2001 when the water project was completed the city paid about 12 cents per 1,000 gallons and the charge has climbed to 37 cents.
- An increase to the cost of maintaining a kennel at the public works yard will be discussed at a future meeting. The state requires a license for an animal shelter or pound. The license will cost $400 for 2010 and 2011. A state inspector also advised that if the city is locating homes for animals, the adopting family or individual must put up a deposit to cover the cost of spaying or neutering. The council will have to decide if it wants to continue to trap stray cats when requested by residents and continue the city’s policy of offering dogs for adoption. If no one will adopt them because of the required deposit, they will be euthanized at $40 per animal; a charge also to be billed to the city.
- Peabody Economic Development and Peabody Main Street director Shane Marler updated the council on the progress of several new businesses. The Coneburg Inn has opened under new management. A new coin operated laundry and beauty salon are now open at 110 N. Walnut. Mendoza’s, a family style restaurant featuring Mexican food, is aiming for an Oct. 1 opening date. Marler said he also has been in discussion with interested parties who would like to open a liquor store.
- The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 22 in the city building.