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CITY COUNCIL MEETING 02/09/15 (Community Budget Requests, Golf Course Lease & Equipment)

Arts Council, YMCA, Extension Give Annual Reports to City Council
By Catherine Ripley, C-T
February 10, 2015

Chillicothe City Council members are entering the 2015-16 budget process and heard annual reports from three local entities during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. The council also discussed a bid to lease golf course equipment. No action was taken and the matter will be further discussed at the council's next meeting.

Reports were made by representatives of the Chillicothe Area Arts Council, the Grand River Area Family YMCA and the University of Missouri Extension Center. Julie Ashbrook, administrator of the Chillicothe Area Arts Council, stated that the council provided 54 events for the community last year. One event was the Sliced Bread Jam Bluegrass Festival, a bluegrass music event held at Jenkins Expo Center. This will be the third year for the festival and, this year, the event is being expanded to include bands Friday night, June 19, as well as all day and evening on Saturday, June 20 (Father's Day weekend). The facility has been rented and regional and award-winning bands have been hired. Ashbrook stated that the event costs between $15,000 and $16,000 to organize, and with the event expanded to two days, the council has asked the city to provide $2,000 this year. Last year, the city provided $1,000 toward the event. Third Ward Councilman Tom Douglas stated that he was pleased to see a bluegrass event return to Chillicothe. Ashbrook noted that the arts council built the Sliced Bread Jam Bluegrass Festival on the foundation of the popular McCullough Bluegrass Festival that began in 1981 and continued through the 1990s at McCullough Park a few miles north of Chillicothe. Ashbrook told the city officials that the arts council programming impacts the local economy because the events draw people to the community. Last year's programming saw attendance by people from more than 100 zip codes. Ashbrook noted that Sunday's concert by Pokey LaFarge & His Band had 400 people in attendance with some of those attendees coming from towns as far away as St. Louis. Additionally, programming is scheduled at a time of day that works well for people to dine at local restaurants before or after the shows. Season programming is supported through season memberships which, again this year, came from 24 communities. Next to make a presentation to the council was Matt Jones, executive director of the Grand River Area Family YMCA. Jones said that the YMCA appreciates the relationship it has with the city of its parks department. The YMCA is seeking $14,000 from the city, the same amount as last year, to help provide services to the community and YMCA memberships to city employees. He said there were 275 youth participating in coach pitch, T-ball and tennis programs last summer, and there are 66 employees with YMCA memberships. Council members were complimentary about the YMCA's facility and programming. Jones, who took over as executive director last year, noted that the local facility is often the envy of other communities with YMCAs. Cunningham stated that the facility brings people of all ages together. The final presentation concerning annual reports was made by Jessica Trussell, county program director for the University of Missouri Extension Center in Livingston County. She noted that Livingston County continues to lead the northwest region in 4-H member enrollment. In 2014, there were more than 450 youth involved in 4-H. The youth participated in a variety of programs, such as youth shooting sports, photography, robotics, quilting, entrepreneurship and more. At a quick glance, Trussell said, at least one fourth of the 4-H members and volunteers reside within the Chillicothe city limits. The Extension has also reached youth through the Family Nutrition Education Program, which reached nearly 2,000 youth in Livingston County alone. This past year, the program expanded and reached 1,366 adults through the Eat Smart Be Active program at the Chillicothe Housing Authority, Life Center Food Pantry and the Livingston County Food Pantry. Trussell stated that a new partnership has been formed with the North Central Missouri Center for Youth and Families and the Livingston County Senior Tax Board to continue to increase the Extension's reach. She noted that the Extension recently received a grant to provide exercise classes to senior citizens free of charge. Last year, the city provided $4,160 for the Extension services. This year, the Extension is requesting $5,000.

No decisions were made Monday; however, the requests will be taken into consideration as the budget process continues.

City Considers New Golf Course Equipment
February 12, 2015 CT

Chillicothe officials reviewed a bid submitted for golf course equipment this week but took no immediate action, pending budget considerations. Green Hills Golf Course Manager Craig Sager presented the bid to City Council members during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. The bid calls for a five-year lease of a Cushman heavy duty utility vehicle, two 48-volt, all-electric greens mowers, two gas-powered reel mowers to serve as tee and approach units, two diesel-powered reel mowers to serve as fairway units, and one large area rotary mower to serve as a rough unit. One company, Kansas Golf and Turf, bid on the entire package in the amount of $253,715, with various payment options available. Another company bid only on the large rotary mower. A third company contacted the city expressing interest only after the bids were opened on Feb. 5. Sager said the golf course equipment is aging and necessitating more man hours and dollars for repairs. "The stuff we have is just bleeding cash right now," Sager said. "Do you want us to use this equipment that is aging and aging fast and keep pumping money into it... or do we step up and get the new equipment?"

Much discussion took place whether to spend money and time to repair old equipment as the start of the golf season nears, or spend more money and purchase new equipment. The council ultimately gave a consensus with a 4-1 vote for the administrator and golf course manager to bring the bid back to the council for consideration if it fits within the city's budget. The matter is expected to be revisited at the council's next meeting on Monday, February 23.

City Administrator Ike Holland advocated to replace the current equipment, noting that the availability of the current equipment dictates what work can be done on the course. "You can imagine if we had the same dilemma in the street department, police department, fire department... Our equipment status starts to dictate what we can and cannot do. Equipment is not the same as people, but it can have the same impact on the quality of work, the quality of service and quality of product we provide in any department. We can either replace the equipment now, or spend a substantial amount in repairs, and we'll have (an employee) in the shop (making repairs) instead of out on the golf course." Second Ward Councilman Wayne Cunningham did not support the consensus to review the golf equipment bid. He acknowledged Sager's and Holland's concerns over aging equipment but expressed his own concerns about available funding. "I think you have the need for the equipment," Cunningham said. "Do we have the finances and the ability to buy all this equipment at once right now? I don't know." Cunningham asked Sager to prioritize the equipment needs as an alternative to getting all new equipment. "This is a lot of money all at one time," Cunningham said. "Can you guarantee me that the irrigation pump is not going to go out next summer? And, we have greens that are over $200,000 or more out there. Where are we going to come up with all the money to put in another pump? We have to be cautious about the amount of money we spend."

Councilman-at-Large David Moore stated that the city is faced with whether to pursue new equipment or fix the old equipment. "If we spend $30,000 fixing the old equipment, we still have old equipment," Moore said. "We enter the season with this old equipment and not knowing what kind of expense we can have throughout the season for further repairs; not to mention the fact that we would be down equipment in the midst of the season when we needed to be functioning. Not knowing what can happen with that old equipment is the reason why I am more interested in pursuing new equipment." City Auditor Theresa Kelly voiced concerns that the General Fund would not have sufficient revenues to subsidize the golf course another $50,000-plus for the next five years. "The General Fund typically transfers $100,000 per year for the operation of the golf course and will most likely have to transfer $150,000 for the current 2014-15 fiscal year," she said.

Council members Moore, Reed Dupy, Tom Douglas, and Paul Howard showed support for pursuing the idea of getting new equipment. The matter will be discussed again during the council's next meeting.

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