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Valley approves $11.3 million budget

VALLEY — The Valley City Council unanimously approved an $11.3 million budget Monday evening for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1. The council discussed the proposed spending plan at length in a work session in July, and department heads have had input into it for some time now.

Mayor Leonard Riley described the budget as conservative and based on anticipated revenues of approximately $11.3 million. The expenditures are around $10.3 million, leaving a balance of around $1 million dollars. There is some flexibility to include purchases that aren’t in the budget at the start. Each department can ask for an additional $70,000 to cover those unanticipated items.

Major items include employee raises and new vehicles. Effective Dec. 1, all city employees who have been with Valley for at least one full year will be getting 5 percent raises. Those who have been with the city less than one full year will be getting 3 percent raises.

The Valley Police Department will be getting three new police vehicles. Planning & Development and Valley Parks & Recreation will each be getting a new truck.

The new police vehicles will be Ford Explorers. They will cost approximately $35,000 each. These vehicles will be ordered on Oct. 2 and should arrive within 60 to 70 days.

Police Chief Tommy Weldon decided to go with Explorers again because the three that were purchased last year have worked out very well. A year ago VPD was looking at getting Tahoes, but it would have taken much longer to receive them.

There’s also an increase in what the city is paying for county 9-1-1 service. It’s the first increase in ten years, and it’s going up from $12,000 a year to $18,000.

The Public Works Department will be getting a new street sweeper. It will cost an estimated $176,000 but leaders believe it could pay for itself in the long run by keeping drain pipes from getting clogged up.

There will be improvements made to the bathrooms at the Community Center and Sportsplex.

There is also an unknown in the new budget.

“We don’t yet know what kind of increases we are going to be getting with health insurance,” Riley said. “We expect it to be going up, but won’t know for several weeks. Overall, we are in the best financial shape we have ever been in.”

In an action taken separately from the budget, a resolution was approved to have the Christmas Merry Go Round return this year. Tinsley’s Amusements of High Hill, Missouri will be bringing it once again. It will cost approximately $28,000. Each year, the city does get help from sponsors in keeping the treasured holiday tradition continuing.

Riley thanked Planning & Development Director Travis Carter and others for the work they did for the city on the 2020 Census.

It’s not easy to have every person counted, and local governments lose out on funding when they do.

“We found over 1,000 people over what we found ten years ago,” Riley said to some loud applause from council members and guests present.

Valley went from around 9,500 people in 2010 to more than 10,500 in the most recent Census.

Public Works Director Patrick Bolt reported to the council that there’s still some street paving left to do from the current budget.

“We have gotten a lot of rain this year and could have more on the way this week,” Riley said.

Bolt said his department would be cutting more trees next year. He asked for some help from the public in letting his department know about trees on the city’s right of way that need to be cut.

“We need some feedback from the council and from citizens on what trees need to be cut,” Bolt said.

Council Member Jim Clark thanked Public Works on having recently removed two nuisance houses on 29th Boulevard in Shawmut.

Valley Parks & Recreation Director Laurie Blount said that her department is staying busy hosting tournaments at the Sportsplex. Three more are scheduled to take place this month. Blount said that a new storage building would be going up just outside the Community Center. It will serve as a place to store tables and chairs. This will free up space inside the main building.

Ordinances were approved to extend a lease for some city-owned property on Fairfax Bypass and to annex some property into the city.

The property lease is with the Fifth judicial Circuit Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force.

For a number of years, they have been leasing a portion of the Public Works building.

The property being annexed is located near the Waffle House on Fob James Drive. It was recently purchased by the city.

The rules were suspended, and both ordinances were adopted on one reading.

The council approved the purchase of some property owned by Loyd Posey on 38th Boulevard. The purchase price is $1,500.

The council also approved the purchase of a new picnic pavilion for the River View boat landing. It will cost a little over $9,000 and will be built by Public Works.

The next council meeting will be taking place at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 27. It will be the final meeting attended by Tommy Weldon as the city’s police chief. He will be retiring on Sept. 30. He will be honored by the council at a reception following the meeting. Mike Reynolds will be sworn in as the new police chief on Oct. 4.