Florence City Council: Audit shows city finances looking better


News editor

Florence mayor and council heard messages of confidence and good news Monday evening from city auditor Dale Clark of Knudson and Monroe.

Clark passed out bound copies of the city's recent audit and reviewed the information.

"You have money put away to do some things when you need to," said Clark. "It's nice to be able to say that.

"Also putting you in a very good position are a few projects that are about to end," he said. "Your water bonds will pay out in '08; you have $35,000 left to pay and then that will be done.

"The city building will be paid in 2009 and the pumper that was purchased by the fire department pays off in October," he added. "That will give you breathing room and you can get some things done that you need to do."

Clark also noted there were no violations and none of the funds went over budget.

Discussion of another issue that could affect city finances took place after Mayor Greg Winn revealed that Larry and Karen Hastings of El Dorado have sold the two former school buildings to a Mr. Willoughby, also of El Dorado.

Winn said the city has received no indication of Willoughby's intentions for the buildings.

He asked for the council's input on offering Willoughby 90 days to bring in a plan for demolition or renovation.

"I'm not in favor of that at all," said councilman Trayce Warner. "I think it's possible this is just a ploy by the Hastings', a stall tactic.

"Who's to say that when the 90 days are up this guy won't sell it back to the Hastings?" she asked. "I think we give him 45 days tops and talk to (city attorney) Marilyn (Wilder) in the meantime."

Winn agreed to talk to the attorney and send a letter to Willoughby asking his intentions and inviting him to meet with the council.

In other business, the council:

— reviewed the second reading of ordinance 791 raising the base sewer rate by $4 per month. That amount is earmarked for the sewer cleaning project the city is undertaking. The vote to approve the ordinance passed when Mayor Winn broke the tie, voting in favor of the increase with councilmen Bryan Harper and Dan Ludwig. Mills and Warner were opposed.

— heard from the city's insurance agent Bill Hendricks, that while most of the city's premiums stayed at 2007 levels, adding property (the buildings used by Marion County Special Education Cooperative) increased the city's coverage and premiums in that area. Council approved payment of $18,687 for city coverage and $4,111 for the fire department package.

— heard that John Swarm will purchase and construct eight official Soap Box Derby cars for the Labor Day competition. Swarm asked if he could get council approval to have the kits delivered to the city shop since he is not in town during the day. Approval was granted.

— granted ADA officer Del Leeds permission to submit annual reports instead of quarterly reports.

— heard from city superintendent Phil Baldwin that he and an electrician from Kaye Electric will upgrade some of the service at the gymnasium building, that Mayer Specialty Service will be in Florence April 1 to review the cleaning project, and the historical society paid for gravel to rock the public areas at City Springs.

— heard that Warner and Winn attended a municipal finance and budget workshop in Newton Saturday.

— approved a franchise fee increase through AT&T, from 30 cents a line to $1.00 a line, with renewal available after two years, followed by a yearly renewal for 20 years. Ludwig and Harper voted in favor of the increase, Mills and Warner were opposed. Winn broke the tie with a vote in favor.