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(Boy Scouts, Funding Requests, Farm Land Bids, Golf Course Budget, CR2 Road, LifeFlight Eagle)

Council Hears Funding Requests, OKs Farm Land Operation Bids
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
March 1, 2016

CAPTION: Chillicothe Mayor Chuck Haney, left, presents a proclamation commemorating the Boy Scouts' Pony Express Council's 100th anniversary to Troop 121 Scoutmaster Chris Ruppel, center, and Troop 120 Scoutmaster Eric Turner, right. The presentation was made during the Chillicothe City Council's meeting Monday evening at City Hall. Approximately 65 youth representing the Boy Scout program in Chillicothe were present for the recognition.

C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

Representatives from Main Street Chillicothe, the Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Humane Society presented annual service reports to Chillicothe City Council members during their regular council meeting Monday evening at City Hall. The presentations were part of the city's budget process because these entities also made funding requests from the city. Last year, the city approved funding Main Street Chillicothe with $28,000, the Chamber of Commerce with $5,150, and the Humane Society with $72,304 (plus fees). Main Street is requesting a $2,000 increase for a total of $30,000, and the Chamber is requesting a $150 increase for a total of $5,300. No funding changes were requested from the Humane Society. The city will hear the final service contract presentations at their next regular meeting.

The council plans to adopt the city's 2016-17 budget at its March 28 meeting as the city's new fiscal year begins April 1.

Also Monday, the council considered bids for a thermal imaging camera for the fire department. Three bids were submitted, ranging in price from $9,914 to $15,867. The council selected the one submitted from Heiman Fire Equipment in the amount of $9,914. Thermal imaging cameras are used to assist firefighters in locating certain things, such as people and hot spots when responding to a fire call. The new camera will replace one that is about 13 years old, according to Fire Chief Darrell Wright. The department plans to keep the older camera and place it on a different truck.

The council on Monday also approved ordinances accepting bids for farm ground operations at the airport and the industrial park. The successful bidder on both properties were Boon Farms, LLC, of Chula, submitting the highest bids. Boon Farms submitted a bid of $182 per acre for approximately 229 acres at the municipal airport; and $167 per acer for approximately 137 acres at the Chillicothe Industrial Park south of U.S. Highway 36. The contracts are for one year on each property; however, the council discussed pursing two-year contracts for the properties next year.

In other business Monday evening, the council confirmed the mayor's appointment of Rollie Stadlman to the Golf Board. Mayor Chuck Haney presided over Monday night's meeting with the full council present.

Golf Course Budget Talks Dominate City Workshop
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
March 1, 2016

Budget talks relating to the city-owned Green Hills Golf Course dominated the city's workshop meeting prior to the City Council's regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. The council has been working on the budget for a couple weeks, and the most recent figures in the golf course budget call for $549,698 in revenues and $549,698 in expenditures and include a $130,000 transfer from the city's general fund to support the golf course's operation. For the last two years, the council has amended the budget to add funds to the golf course budget over what was initially budgeted. In 2014-15, the city budgeted $85,000 as a transfer from the city's general fund to subsidize the golf course; and, the city ended up transferring $160,000. In 2015-16, the city budgeted $120,000 as a transfer from the city's general fund to subsidize the golf course. City Auditor Theresa Kelly projects that the city will end up transferring a total of at least $180,000 by the end of this fiscal year, March 31, 2016. With a pattern of increasing transfer amounts, 2nd Ward Councilman Wayne Cunningham advocated for a more realistic budget rather than setting figures too low and then having the council consider increases later in the budget year. "I'm not against maintaining the golf course," Cunningham said. "It's always going to cost us money. But, let's put it in the budget to begin with and quit transferring money later in the year." Councilman-at-Large David Moore said while the golf course does have fixed expenses, there are multiple variables, such as weather, that impact revenues and expenses. Auditor Kelly noted that several years ago, the city capped transfers from the general revenue fund for the golf course at $100,000. She suggested that the city look at ways to reduce expenses. "I think we need to take ownership of the situation and find ways to cut costs," Kelly said. City Administrator Ike Holland said that 99 percent of cities make budget adjustments and that states do it all the time. He said adjusting the budget doesn't mean that the city is being dishonest.

Access Road, LifeFlight Hangar Considered in Budget
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
March 2, 2016

Chillicothe City Council members will have a public hearing to consider distribution of capital improvement sales tax funds at 6 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at City Hall. Proposed items include an access road off of U.S. Highway 65 North for the proposed new Chillicothe R-2 school campus, structural repairs to the police station wall, and construction of a new airport hangar that would house the LifeFlight Eagle ambulance helicopter operations.

Capital Improvement Sales Tax Fund money is generated though a half-cent city sales tax. During the 2014-15 budget year, the tax generated $816,060, and for the new 2016-17 year, the tax is estimated to bring in 2 percent more than 2014-15. Each year, the council conducts a public hearing as to how the funds should be used. The largest dollar amount item proposed for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which begins April 1, is construction of a new airport hangar at a maximum cost of $500,000 for LifeFlight Eagle. The air ambulance service is currently based in Trenton but has expressed a desire to relocate to Chillicothe. The access road to the proposed new school campus is budgeted in part through the city in an amount not to exceed $600,000. The city's portion, if approved, would be $300,000 and would be matched by $300,000 from local foundations. The balance of the cost would be paid for by the Chillicothe R-2 School District. Construction of the road is contingent upon passage of the school's bond issue being presented on the April 5 ballot. Also included in the capital improvement plan is $278,000 for repairs to a wall at the police station. The city recently bid the project with the only bid coming back in the amount of $278,600. The council decided to reject that bid due to it being much higher than what was initially thought and having no other bids to compare it to. These items are up for discussion; and the costs involved could be lower than what is identified on the list.

Other items included as capital improvement expenditures proposed for 2016-17 are $523,500 for Chilli Bay, which is a payment on the bonds to build the facility; $43,000 for the prison demolition, if needed; and $99,000 of designated funds that can be used only for Chilli Bay Water Park. The proposal identifies a beginning balance of $592,066 to start the 2016-17 budget year and an ending balance of negative $160,334. According to the project list, the city would use reserve funds if needed and pay back those funds the following year, according to City Administrator Ike Holland.

Main Street Chillicothe Gives Year-End Report; Identifies Goals for 2016
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
March 4, 2016

CAPTION: Construction of a new facade on the Klinginsmith/Wells Fargo building at 708-710 Washington Street was completed this week and painting will begin soon. The renovation is part of Main Street Chillicothe's facade program.

C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

Representatives from Main Street Chillicothe presented the organization's annual service report to Chillicothe City Council members during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. The presentation was part of the city's budget process because Main Street Chillicothe is among entities that contract with the city to provide services. Main Street requested a $2,000 increase over last year's city-approved amount, for a total of $30,000.

Since its inception, Main Street has completed more than 30 facade renovations in downtown Chillicothe, according to Micah Landes, Main Street Chillicothe's executive director. Last year, there were five: the Birthright building, the Essential Kneads building, Upsilon Payments, and the Grace and Simpson building at 452 Washington. Many facades are currently under construction, including the Klinginsmith/Wells Fargo building. Painting on that building should begin soon. Landes said that through Main Street's efforts, 20 murals have been completed with nearly $200,000 in public and private investment dollars. Downtown has added two new murals this past year - the Edge Mar mural at the corner of Jackson and Locust streets and the library mural on the east side of the Strand Apartments. In addition to the new murals being added, a maintenance program with local artist Kelly Poling was established to maintain and preserve the community's existing murals. She also talked about the flower pot program. Last year, Main Street sold 82 flower pots to downtown businesses and added three new permanent concrete planters on Washington. Main Street also added two metal art pieces in the concrete planters in front of Silver Moon Plaza and plan to add more in the remaining planters this year. Last year, Main Street held 13 events downtown, each with various purposes and with different community partners. She also mentioned Main Street's business support and noted that last year, five new businesses joined downtown: Mast Productions, Upsilon Payments, K&S Second Chances, Hoarder's Treasure Shop, and Clevenger and Associates. In addition, the Cultural Corner Art Guild and Gallery was approved for $350,000 in tax credits to renovate a building they purchased in the downtown. Main Street helped set up the not-for-profit in the beginning stages of their organization and helped sell tax credits for the project.

Main Street's goals this year include focusing on Locust Street and getting more businesses in that part of the downtown district and also making the community aware of historic preservation and protecting the assets that attract people to our downtown. Landes said that Main Street has accomplished many of its goals, but there is room for growth. "Our top priorities continue to be business support, events, and beautification," she said. "In addition, we hope to have Historic Preservation Ordinances and to become a Certified Local Government, which will help preserve our downtown for years to come and provide us the fast track to receive additional preservation funding through grants." She said the organization will also continue to look at other ways that will help create more sustainable funding for Main Street. She also said that Main Street Chillicothe appreciates its partnership with the city on many levels. "People from the national level and all over the state, including the state historic preservation office in Jefferson City, mention just how refreshing it is to see the city of Chillicothe and Main Street working together toward one common goal," Landes said.

Chamber Dives Report; Makes Funding Request
By Catherine Stortz Ripley 
March 3, 2016

Representatives from the Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce presented the chamber's annual service report to Chillicothe City Council members during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. The presentation was part of the city's budget process because the chamber is among entities that contract with the city to provide services. Last year, the city approved funding the Chamber with $5,150. This year, the Chamber is requesting a $150 increase for a total of $5,300. "With nearly 255 members, we continue to grow," Chamber President Chasity Anderson told council members. "The Chamber is an integral part of the business community. Our luncheons, our ribbon cuttings, our after hours programs... are all well attended and help further our goal of helping to promote our businesses and organizations that make up our area and our community." Major events the Chamber sponsors include Chautauqua in the Park, Great Northwest Day, Holiday Parade, the Salute to Ag breakfast, Piccadilly and an annual awards banquet. Crystal Narr, executive director of the Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce also addressed the council and talked about the holiday street lighting program. The Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce has been the stewards of the holiday lighting decorations for the city of Chillicothe for the last several years. Chamber staff members coordinate the storage, repair and general maintenance of the streetlight decorations, which now number 116 snowflakes used each holiday season. The city purchased the snowflakes in 2003. In addition to the Chamber's role of account stewards for the snowflakes, Chillicothe Municipal Utilities provides the equipment and labor to hang the snowflakes, Minnick Supply Company aids in ordering of the bulbs and making repairs to keep them functioning; and volunteers replace the 7,000 bulbs every other year. "This plan has worked flawlessly for the city over the past decade, but the snowflakes are now 14 years old and showing their age," Narr stated. She said that the chamber is beginning to research options for the years ahead, which would include replacing some or all of the snowflakes. The city and county both contributed to the holiday lighting fund in 2015, and the Chamber has requested a continuation of this support for 2016. The holiday decorations fund was established when the decorations were purchased. The Chamber is requesting that the city contribute $2,000 toward the purchase and maintenance of the community decorations. Together, the Chamber's total request form the city this year is $5,300 to support the Chamber's efforts on behalf of the community.

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