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CITY COUNCIL MEETING 02/13/17 (Ambulance District, Bluegrass Festival, Humane Society, Bowling Center, Public Golf Course)

News courtesy of Catherine Stortz Ripley, C-T

Chillicothe City Council members approved a change in its contract with the Livingston County Ambulance District that allows for an increase in its staffing by three paramedics. The local department is in good shape with six ambulances but increased demand for ambulance services has necessitated the desire to add personnel, according to Fire Chief Darrell Wright. In 2016, there were 2,166 emergency management service calls involving ambulance response. When the local ambulance service does not have enough people to cover the calls, it usually receives mutual aid from the Grundy County or Linn County ambulance services; likewise, local staff members provide services to the surrounding ambulance services when assistance is needed and local staff members are available. Fire Chief Darrell Wright said it is the intent to hire the best people for the positions, noting that is likely that the successful candidates will need additional training. He noted that outside funding may be available to help pay for the additional staff members. The department operates with 24-hour shifts and has seven employees working per day. The additional three employees will allow for eight employees to be on duty each day. If it is decided that additional staff members are not needed for future years, positions would be eliminated through attrition, the chief stated.


C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

Chillicothe City Council members heard the first two of several annual reports that will be made by entities with which the city contracts to provide services to city residents. The reports of the Livingston County Humane Society and the Chillicothe Area Arts Council were made during the council's regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall.

In her report to the council, Lesley Patek, shelter guardian for the Livingston County Humane Society, stated that the society is requesting an additional $2,000 in its contract over last year to help with the increases in veterinary bills, food, wages and supplies. The Humane Society is just one of several annual contracts that City Council members will review during the next several meetings as they formulate the 2017-18 city budget for the new fiscal year, which begins April 1. Last year's contract called for the city to provide the animal shelter with $72,304. The society also receives revenues from the dog and cat licenses which are issued by the city (approximately $4,500 annually) and $6,900 in revenue from the rent of a tower located on shelter property (rental funds can only be used for maintenance of the property). Patek provided an activity report to the council Monday evening, which showed that the canine and feline numbers in 2016 were similar to 2015, with only a slight increase in the total incoming numbers. In 2016, the shelter took in 409 dogs and 381 cats. Of the dogs coming in during 2016, there were 112 rescued, 61 adopted, 125 returned to owners and 88 euthanized. Of the cats coming in, 53 were adopted, 21 were returned to their owners and 258 were euthanized. In 2015, of the 391 dogs coming in to the shelter, 92 were rescued, 84 adopted, 100 returned to their owners, and 101 euthanized. Of the 360 cats coming in, 87 were adopted, 11 returned to their owners, and 234 euthanized. Patek said that cases of abandoned animals continues and that animals are being found on gravel roads and along the highway. Patek noted that there are eight dogs at Chillicothe Correctional Center going through the Puppies for Parole program, which she said has been a "wonderful program." She also stated that the offenders working at the shelter through the work release program have been excellent help.

The Chillicothe Area Arts Council is planning an expanded Sliced Bread Jam Bluegrass Festival this summer and bringing in two national award-winning bands. The festival will be Friday, June 16, through Sunday, June 18, at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center Campus. In making her annual report on behalf of the Arts Council to City Council members Monday evening, Administrator Mary Lou VanDeventer thanked the city leaders for their support last year of $2,000 and requested additional funding for this year. The Arts Council is requesting $5,000. The administrator stated that bluegrass bands will perform at Silver Moon Plaza for a free concert the Thursday evening prior to the festival. The Arts Council will be partnering with Main Street Chillicothe for a bluegrass festival 90-minute kick-off concert with two bands, followed by an opportunity for musicians to participate by playing during an "open jam" session. The festival will begin Friday, featuring five regional bands and one national award winning band - Volume Five. These bands will be featured Saturday with the award winning band, "Flatt Lonesome" joining them for the day. The Arts Council has adjusted admission for the festival, stating that there will not be an admission fee for children this year, in an effort to draw more families. Plans are being developed to have some of the festival bands play downtown Chillicothe Saturday morning during the Farmer's Market.

Chillicothe City Council members are in the process of formulating the overall city budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which begins April 1. Over the next several weeks, the council will hear annual reports and receive funding requests from entities with which the city contracts for services.

The city-owned bowling alley is expected to produce a net income of nearly $100,000 while the city-owned golf course is projected to produce a base net loss of $132,000 in the first year of operation under an outside management firm. Josh Black, of GreatLife Golf and Fitness, presented management plans of both facilities to Chillicothe City Council members during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. The city entered into a contract with GreatLife at the end of 2016 to manage both facilities in an effort to boost revenues and operate them more efficiently. GreatLife's budget will be included in the city's 2017-18 fiscal budget which will be approved next month. Black said his organization will develop new marketing strategies for both facilities to reach a broader audience and generate increased play. According to the budget presented Monday evening, Green Hills Golf Course is expected to produce $388,500 in golf revenues (including $126,600 in membership dues and $220,500 in golf revenues such as green fees, tournament fees, cart rental, golf merchandise, pro shop services and driving range), along with revenues from food and beverage sales. On the expense side, the budget reflects the largest amount being payroll and related expenses of $247,206; and total operating expenses of $222,070. The deficit, according the plan presented on Monday, is projected to be around $132,200 for 2017. This anticipated net loss, though, does not include the $48,000 management fee and other expenses such as property liability insurance, equipment payment, costs to pay offenders for their work and some other expenses. Last year, the city transferred $239,040 from the general fund to cover unmet golf course expenses. Although the 2017 budget it is not finalized, it is anticipated that the total transfer from the general fund will be similar to last year's, plus the management fee. It is undecided whether electric golf carts will replace the current gas carts at the golf course. If the change is made to electric, the course's shed will need to be rewired to accommodate electric carts. It is anticipated that the electric carts may be more efficient than gas carts because the cost of electricity will be reimbursed by the city-owned Chillicothe Municipal Utilities. The costs for utilities at the golf course always has been reimbursed by CMU, according to City Administrator Ike Holland. Black talked about the condition of the course, staffing, and plans for getting the course ready for the new season. He said the 25-year-old course was in good shape and that the greens were built correctly. He said he would like to develop faster, smoother green surfaces, and expand league options. Black stated that the course's irrigation system is in great shape.

According to the budget document presented Monday night, Fast Lane Family Entertainment Center will see a gross profit of $414,600, plus other income, and total expenses of $316,500, for a net income of $98,600. Last year, the center produced a net income of $25,800. The biggest source of revenue, according to the budget, is increasing revenues in league play, open bowling, and tournament revenue. Total expenses are being budgeted at $316,500. The largest contributing factor in reducing expenses is the elimination of utilities expenses. The actual cost of utilities in 2016 was $48,000. The utilities will be reimbursed by CMU. Utilities were not reimbursed while Grand River Entertainment operated the bowling alley. Councilman Reed Dupy expressed displeasure that retirement benefits have not been offered to employees of Fast Lane Family Entertainment Center or Green Hills Golf Course, whereas full-time employees of the golf course prior to GreatLife's management were city employees and received city employee benefits, including retirement. Full-time employees of the bowling center had not been city employees and therefore not offered city employee benefits. GreatLife has offered health insurance to the full-time employees of both facilities.

Mayor Chuck Haney will make presentations to Gene Moyers for his service on the Planning and Zoning Board and to Jody Case for his service on the Board of Adjustments. Pictured: Chillicothe Mayor Chuck Haney, left, expressed appreciation to Gene Moyers (center) and Jody Case (right) who served on city boards and presented each with a plaque in recognition of their service. Moyers served eight years on the Chillicothe Planning and Zoning Board and Case served 11 years on the Chillicothe Board of Adjustments. The presentations were made during the regular meeting of the Chillicothe City Council. C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

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