Among the minimal changes during recent McMinnville city budget talks were a department director losing his new vehicle, and soccer fields gaining $20,000.
“Is the chief not here?” asked Alderman Jimmy Bonner, Safety Committee chairman, of Fire Chief Keith Martin. “I guess we will go ahead and review the budget without him. There is one change I would like to make. I want to remove the vehicle from the budget.”
The amount of $35,000 to purchase Martin a new vehicle received preliminary approval when the Finance Committee met with Safety Committee members to review the budget.
Bonner says the chief can make due for one more year.
“I would like to take it out until next year,” Bonner said. “I believe we have enough cars in the fire department. He can get by one more year without buying a new car.”
The budget, amendment included, was passed unanimously by Bonner and Aldermen Mike Neal and Rick Barnes.
Also up for review was the budget for McMinnville Parks and Recreation by Neal and Aldermen Billy Wood and Ben Newman.
“I just cannot vote in favor of this budget, because the money that was earmarked for the soccer association has been removed,” said Wood. “They desperately need it and we have the money.”
In the budget originally was $200,000 for upgrades to Pistole Park, the soccer complex operated by Warren County Youth Soccer Association. The money was removed during a preliminary review of the budget.
Newman wants to do work to the fields, but not without a plan.
“I would like to see an additional $30,000 to be used for field maintenance while we generate a plan. If we throw $200,000 without having a plan, I think things may come up that we didn’t intend. I think we need to sit down and have some proposals where we know what things cost. Whatever we do needs to be thought out and planned.”
Wood added, “This board recently earmarked $26 million over 25 years without a plan. I’m asking for $200,000 for 1,000 kids. I think it’s a reasonable request.”
Neal offered the history of how the soccer complex began.
“When the Warren County Soccer Association started, they came to the city and said, ‘You buy us the land and we will take care of everything else.’ Let’s consider that as you think about all this,” Neal said.
While the city purchased the land and is given $12 per player — approximately $10,000 a year — by the soccer association, all the other money gained through fees and concessions is retained by the association.
Neal says he would be willing to appropriate some money, as long as the city is involved in the management of the entire complex. “If we are going to give the money, we need to run it,” he said.
While Newman and Neal agreed to include $20,000 in the budget for soccer field maintenance, Wood voted against it.
“How can this board justify the fear of spending $200,000 when it passed an ordinance to escrow $26 million without any plans,” said Wood.
All other budgets were accepted as proposed by their prospective committees, including the budgets for Planning and Zoning, Public Works, Vehicle Maintenance, Animal Control, Urban Forestry, Street Aid, Solid Waste Collection and Disposal, Fire Department, and Water and Wastewater.
The budgets were reviewed and accepted by Finance Committee members the same night and sent to the full board for its consideration on July 9. Changes can be made by the board.