The Ferron City Council met on April 4 to discuss money matters. Although the upcoming budget does not need to be approved until June, councilmen want to ensure that expenditures are made wisely and what money is left for the 2013 budget is used correctly.
According to the preliminary numbers, Ferron City’s revenue is $26,000 less than last year. With revenue down and operating costs up, the council is looking at ways to trim the budget yet provide services that Ferron residents have come to enjoy.
Mayor JoAnn Behling has been crunching numbers and suggested trimming simple expenses such as telephone bills. According to the mayor, if the city were to drop something as simple as caller ID the city would save $90-100 per year. Although the savings arenвЂ™t huge, the council feels that anything will help when it comes to budgeting funds.
The council agreed that the current phone system which is in operation at city hall is outdated and will look into options for a better communication system. While doing so, it hopes to shave costs to lease the current system and possibly drop down to one phone line from two, saving the city money.
According to councilman Joe Trenery, the roof of city hall has several leaks and the shingles are in desperate need of repair. Mayor Behling agreed and requested a quote be made for the structural improvement.
вЂњIf we can get money in the fund, we will do it,вЂќ she said.
After discussing possible simple fixes to the city budget, the councilmen moved on to discuss the struggling golf course and restaurant which the city owns. Millsite Golf Course is one of the most challenging courses in the state yet struggles to generate revenue. The city hopes to change this and make the recreation area profitable.
Last year, Ferron City spent $31,000 on the golf course restaurant but only generated $16,000 in profits. Preliminary numbers indicate that the city is facing a combined deficit of $28,000 bwtween the the golf course and restaurant.
With the restaurant scheduled to open April 17, an extensive discussion was made regarding spending cuts. The idea to wait to open the facility until July was even mentioned as one way to save valuable funds.
Just to open the restaurant would cost approximately $6,000. This money would come in part from unused city funds for the current budget year and would still leave the city with a deficity of $2,200.
Looking at the proposed 2014 budget, a surplus of $9,000 could be used toward the opening as well. Councilman Trent Jackson is reluctant about this move.
вЂњIf we rescue one thing with rescue money then what do we do for other projects,вЂќ he said. вЂњIвЂ™m worried about not having enough money to cover little things that come up because they always do.”
Councilman Ronny Bloomer agreed.
“If we postpone opening for four weeks, we would save $14,000 (at an operating expense of $350 per week).вЂќ A statement which some council members agreed on but remained reluctant to decide upon.
Mayor Behling felt that operating expenses for the restaurant during the upcoming season will be considerably less than last year. She felt that by having only one employee at the facility, costs will drop. However, the thought of a busy season worries both the mayor and the city council.
вЂњI would like to bump up the budget for the restaurant if it gets busy and we need to hire help,вЂќ Mayor Behling said. вЂњIf itвЂ™s too busy, one person canвЂ™t handle it.вЂќВ
With the success of the restaurants upcoming season unknown, Mayor Behling suggested allocating $3,000 from the general fund to go toward temporary employment for the restaurant, just in case itвЂ™s needed.
The mayor would also like to see $1,200 per week go toward food. The council agreed that as long as the menu was kept simple and wages in check, the request would be possible.
Jackson decided that worst-case scenario, it would cost the city $10,000 per month to operate the facility. If the wages decreased and food profit increased it would be realistic that operating costs would only be $5,500 per month.
After thorough discussion on the matter, the council decided to table the golf course and restaurant issue until its next meeting in two weeks. In the meantime, councilmen will look into the numbers closer to determine what can be done to balance the upcoming budget while making Millsite Golf Course and restaurant profitable.