Hopkinsville Committee of the Whole Chairman Phillip Brooks motioned that city council not receive pay increases in fiscal year 2021-2022 due to city employees receiving a lesser cost of living allowance in the coming year.
“Whenever we do a cost of living increase to the city employees, that automatically goes in to city council as well,” Brooks said, noting that even when city employees did not get a COLA last year, the council did.
“Just out of fairness, I don’t feel that we should get one this year,” he said.
Mayor Wendell Lynch also agreed to forgo the annual COLA increase to the mayor’s salary for the next fiscal year.
The measure was forwarded to city council for first reading.
According to New Era archives, Hopkinsville City Council recently voted to give employees a 2.34% COLA for FY 2021 instead of the proposed 4% due to budget pressure from COVID-19.
Finance Officer Robert Martin presented the annual year-end budget amendments at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, noting that he looked at the worst case scenario of COVID-19 to reach his projections.
“We don’t know how much of a decrease our revenues are going to be,” Martin said, noting that payroll taxes are 11% less than they were this time last year.
Martin showed the city’s payroll tax revenue at $893,000 less and its business license revenue decreased by $700,000. He also budgeted $1.35 million of prior year revenue to be used if needed.
“These are worst-case scenario projections,” he said. “I’m hoping, and I really think that they’ll come in better, but for budget, I’m putting in the worst scenario just in case we are surprised.”
The committee also forwarded an addendum to the payment plan for the Christian County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s UDAG loan with the city.
The bureau has asked the city for a deferment of its quarterly $7,500 loan payment due to the financial strain of COVID-19 on the bureau’s budget.
“They have made all their payments on time up until this time,” he said. “But a major source of income is the transient room tax,” which has significantly decreased amid the travel ban, which ends today.
When compared to the $30,000 the bureau had received at this time last year in transient room, they received $15,454 this year.
“That’s going to continue for at least the next few months,” Martin said. “They’ve requested if they can defer payment and add those on to the term of their note.”
The committee forwarded the addendum to council, giving the mayor the ability to extend the deferral if needed.
The committee of the whole also heard a proposal to expand the Hopkinsville landfill.
Hopkinsville Solid Waste General Manager Tony Sicari said the current landfill will be full soon, and they are prepared to build a new cell to accommodate it.
“We will probably be at airspace by the middle of July,” he said, noting that it filled up faster than projected.
He explained that the fill has a variety of customers that depend on it.
“We recruited businesses to come to the landfill,” he said. “
The project will cost $3.4 million, and the city is hoping to fund it through the Kentucky League of Cities Bond Corporation pool, which backs the bonding process for several cities at one time.
“The benefit here is you don’t have to go through the rating process yourself due to the budget issues you all are facing due to the pandemic,” said Mark Rawlins, financial advisor for the project.
He explained that KLC is still working on other pool applicants for the bond, and expects to have funding available by July.
Estimated payments to KLC from the city would be $240,000 annually.
Brooks asked Sicari to explained the importance of the project for those who might have sticker shock.
“If we had to put a lock on the gate (of the landfill) at the end of July, first of August, we’d have to report to the state and come up with at least $8.2 million in the bank for closure costs ... ,” he said. “We’d have to take our waste to a different landfill, which would incur higher costs on our end and have to pass that on to our customers.”
The council decided to forward the measure to council.