The Guthrie City Council held a workshop and regular business meeting on Tuesday night. The workshop was a presentation of the draft of the city budget for the 2020 fiscal year that starts October 1. The council meeting had some fireworks when a motion to form a screening committee was made and passed.
Guthrie City Manager Leroy Alsup presented the draft budget to the council members with all of the city department heads present to answer questions. The total budget for the general fund comes in at 12.4 million dollars. The proposed budget currently has a revenue shortfall of approximately $330,000. Alsup told the council the city will have a surplus from 2019 and proposed using it to balance the 2020 budget. Alsup also told the council that if revenues did not improve in the next 12-24 months, the city would have to figure out ways to raise revenues or reduce costs.
Ward I Councilman James Long asked why if the revenues were down, the direction to the department heads was not to cut the budgets five percent. The only other departments that were asked questions was tourism and the fire department. Tourism Director Justin Fortney explained his marketing budget was down because of down-trending hotel-motel tax revenues, so the marketing budget was decreased. Fire Chief Eric Harlow explained that some of his staff are under the wrong area and that will be fixed on the new budget year, which is why there is a variance on the various accounts. The budget also called for raises across the board for most city employees.
The Guthrie Public Works Authority (GPWA) budget included money for the new wastewater treatment plant, money to the stabilization fund. Water revenues were budgeted flat.
The budget will still have to be presented in a public hearing in September before final approval.
During the meeting, the council accepted the resignation of Ward II Councilman Chuck Burtcher. At that time, much opposition was voiced. The agenda called for discussion and possible action to appoint a Ward II replacement
fective August 6. Instead a motion was made to have a selection committee interview the three candidates and bring a name to the council. Long and Ward III Councilman Don Channel strenuously objected to the motion as that was not on the agenda. After discussion the motion was voted on and was passed with a 4-2 vote with Long and Channel in opposition and Jeff Taylor, Gaylord Z. Thomas, Jim Case and Steve Gentling for the motion. It was also pointed out that the city charter does not require a selection committee to fill a city council seat, just four votes.
The council then worked quickly filling several voluntary board spots for Convention and Visitors Bureau, Guthrie Housing Authority and the Parks Board.
After comments by the council members and city manager, the meeting was adjourned at 7:25 p.m.