Clinton City Council had a well-attended meeting this past Thursday, Aug. 16, as the council heard presentations regarding the importance of funding for the county 911 center.
Funding had become an issue after the most recent meeting of the county 911 Commission formed to address funding shortfalls in 911 and jail operations, heard at its most recent meeting that Clinton was not able to assure it had funds to contribute to 911 operations. The Commission has members from the Quorum Court, as well as Fairfield Bay and Clinton City Councils. Members of these bodies attended the Clinton council meeting.
Clinton Mayor Richard McCormac introduced presentations by Fairfield Bay Mayor Paul Wellenberger and Van Buren County Judge Roger Hooper to the council, each of whom made an individual case as to the need for Clinton to contribute to the funding.
In the past the 911 Center, located in Fairfield Bay, had been a budget item for Fairfield Bay and the county, receiving money for operations from funds from phone service. Late last year Wellenberger explained to an intergovernmental meeting that funding shortfalls were being created, as fees were no longer covering expenses.
Wellenberger presented that his city was, like Clinton, facing budget pressures in its 2019 planning, adding that the original agreement which placed the 911 Center in Fairfield Bay, in 2000, did not include Clinton and he did not know why.
He went on to state to the council that, from his research, Clinton has higher revenues.
“You have a budget problem, I have a budget problem, but you have a lot more revenue than we do,” Wellenberger said.
He went on to present that Clinton City Council members, and Mayor, are paid more than Fairfield Bay, with Clinton having more revenue potential with a five-lane highway running through town. Wellenberger also said that in the apportionment worked out by the 911 Commision, Fairfield Bay had taken on the costs allocated for Shirley and Damascus, leaving Clinton with its 19 percent funding number.
Hooper also presented to the council, centering on two points: That the county was taking on a significant portion of 911 funding, at 58 percent, from its general fund, and that this was an increase from the previous year. The second point, that Hooper reinforced was that ultimately the county, and its cities, had to have a 911 system in place.
Hooper pointed out that tax revenue for the county was down $65,000 for the year.
After their presentations, statements from the council, while supporting a 911 system, indicated some remaining skepticism.
“Our community support is extremely lacking right now,” Councilman Jason Lynch said.
Councilwoman Gayla Bradley pointed out that while she agreed 911 was important, the $46,000 funding request was, ultimately, the cost of a fully-funded city employee.
McCormac, in summarizing before the council went on to other business, said, “We’re going to provide for our citizens.”
The council is expected to meet Tuesday evening, Aug. 21, to begin discussion as to how to meet the funding need for 911, McCormac told the gathering. The Quorum Court is meeting Thursday night, Aug. 22, and 911 funding is expected to be a topic on the agenda.
In other council matters:
The council passed an ordinance for yard waste removal. The ordinance requires calls into City Hall to request service, and for bagging waste grass and leaves. The ordinance will limit the time for yard waste removal by the city street department. The ordinance included a fine for dumping yard waste in drainage ditches.
The city entered into an agreement with the county for chip and seal work.
City police were finalizing an investigation into vandalism at the city park.