By Joe Reavis
Department heads wrapped up their presentations to Wylie City Council last week and the council was slated to meet early this week to sift through requests en route to adoption of fiscal year 2015-’16 budget.
Presentations to the council Tuesday, July 21, were from the city manager, public art fund, facilities, finance, fire-rescue, emergency communications, library and city manager.
The council planned to meet Tuesday, July 28, in a budget work session and a proposed final budget will be presented to the council and filed with the city secretary for public view on Aug. 5.
City Secretary Carol Ehrlich made only a couple of modest requests of the council, for software to better collect and store Laserfische files and funding to restore the third volume of three containing historic city council minutes.
The city secretary also presented budget numbers and plans for the public art fund which sponsored the Wylie Arts Festival and JazzArts Festival and worked with Bluegrass on Ballard.
The art fund board has decided to discontinue the JazzArts Festival due to lack of participation and attendance. The festival has run for three years and cost the fund $25,000 last year to produce.
Efforts will be made next year to pick a site and artwork as part of a thoroughfare art fund provided for in a past bond issues in which Country Club Road in Wylie was improved. The fund contains about $350,000 for art that must be placed along a designated road in town.
Facilities maintenance superintendent Shane Colley asked the council for an additional maintenance worker to help tend to 13 city buildings and outlined plans to remodel the restrooms at the public safety room to make them ADA compliant and improve preventative maintenance procedures.
Finance Director Linda Bantz presented budget requests for finance, purchasing, utility billing, human resources and municipal court. Asked for in the new budget were to create and fill a buyer position in purchasing, and in human resources a compensation analyst and part-time administrative assistant.
Bantz and the council discussed how to proceed to make paying city bills and fees by credit card more user friendly. A separate fee is charged customers for paying with a credit card and the discussion centered on possibly dropping the fee.
Wylie Fire-Rescue Chief Brent Parker presented a long list of items for council consideration, including purchase of a new fire truck tagged at about $800,000 and an ambulance for about $225,000.
Parker pointed out that the new fire truck would replace a unit that is almost 10 years old and that the department tries to replace trucks at the decade mark. A new ambulance would replace two older, backup units.
The chief also reported the department plans to purchase an alternative response fire truck unit, but that the cost is to be reimbursed by homeowners in the new Inspiration subdivision in exchange for providing fire protection to that area.
Items requested for the fire department and for which city officials already have given preliminary approval are creation of a new supervisory position in emergency communications, upgrading nine firefighters to apparatus operators and adding a fire inspector, and buying an emergency air tank fill station, a new rescue tool set, emergency airbag replacement and an additional emergency dispatch station.
Parker reported that the city will soon need to look at changing its 9-1-1 telephone system because Verizon has notified customers it will no longer support the equipment.
Wylie head librarian Rachel Roscoe asked the council for two computers, three 3M work stations, two printers and six laptop computers.
She reported that the library served 189,525 visitors the past year who checked out 525,776 items.
City Manager Mindy Manson presented a budget request to upgrade computer tablets in her office and for additional funding for travel and training.