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Committee works on budget plans
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MONROE - The Finance and Taxation Committee is prioritizing projects proposed by city departments as part of the city's five-year capital improvement plan.

In the first of three meetings so far to look at next year's budget, the committee looked at items brought to them by department heads to be included in the preliminary capital budget and evaluated for final approval.

The capital budget itself was a topic of discussion - namely the method in which projects could be funded. Committee members worked with City Administrator Phil Rath to deem which projects could be paid upfront and which should be paid for through bonds.

Rath said with the pay-as-you-go plan there is less total cost due to the lack of interest being paid, but it also lacks security of investment down the road. In the area of large-ticket items, bonds prove more useful, he said. The committee agreed to let the cost determine the method of payment: For equipment, or small fixtures and building repairs, the costs will be paid directly, while larger-ticket items such as construction projects, the city could use bonds.

The committee focused primarily on using the capital budget for top priority projects. Some of those are:

Fire Department

Monroe Fire Chief Daryl Rausch said two main priorities for the fire department are replacing an emergency response vehicle and acquiring self-contained breathing apparatuses. The units were originally slated for 2017 or 2018, but a federal grant will cover roughly 85 percent of the cost, so their priority was moved up. The grant totals almost $190,000. Rausch said the department would only require roughly $2,000 from the 2016 budget after accounting for the fire department's total of grants and donations.

Police Department

Aging SUVs will be replaced by a pickup truck, a cargo van called a RAM ProMaster and two other vehicles.

Police Chief Fred Kelley explained that the department also is in need of more body cameras for its officers.

"I still think it's a priority one," Kelley said. "They get used every day."

Kelley said the $28,500 bill for more cameras would be split over two years and said the city can apply for a reimbursement program, which could recoup $5,000 of that money.

A big move for the department was the change in the 911 calling system. Previously, local phone companies handled the calling system for Green County. However, the sheriff's office was recently given the task of handling it independently, tacking on a $300,000 bill for proper equipment. Not only did the county have to pay for new technology but so did Monroe. Kelley said the hope is that with tools, the response time will decrease, but it does come at a cost.

"I don't think we have much of a choice," Beer said.

City Hall

The city also wants to add 15 terabytes of data storage at City Hall.Assistant Administrator Martin Shanks said the IT department required double the current space because digital storage space is running short. It took five years to nearly fill that amount.

"We are running out of space," Shanks said.

Improvements to City Hall were limited to the bare necessities in favor of the possibility of a larger project down the road.


A computer, a new vehicle and a large format plotter were among the items in need of replacement. A total request of $19,400 was made to replace funds which will be needed in the future for other equipment.

Public Works

Public Works Director Colin Simpson is seeking $70,000 for street repairs and renovations.

In Parks and Recreation, the top priority is expanding parking at Honey Creek Park. Simpson said an 8,000-foot mesh which still allows grass to grow through it would help make room for more cars to park inexpensively at the park during events while not compromising the quality of the ground. Tennis court resurfacing is also a priority, as well as adding bathroom facilities at Twining Park.

A $400,000 sewer machine replacement and the $50,000 transfer of an end loader from wastewater to the streets crew are items of priority.

Items under storm water included drainage at 30th Street and 18th Avenue and increasing security at the well houses using key cards instead of physical keys. Simpson said a new backhoe is estimated to cost $96,000. A large ticket item, the replacement of the Reese Lift Station, would be a $900,000 project and though it was deemed a high priority by Public Works, committee members were hesitant to move forward with the high cost.

The committee will meet Monday to pore over a preliminary budget, outlined by Rath. The first draft will include which funds will be designated to projects.