City budget meeting Monday
McCOOK, Neb. -- The City of McCook 2015-16 preliminary budget is scheduled to be available to the public this week and city leaders are asking citizens with input to attend next weeks' meeting.
The city has scheduled a "Public Review Meeting" at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at the Municipal Center.
Earlier this week City Manager Nate Schneider encouraged, "anyone with ideas or wanting to discuss," the city budget to attend the meeting.
City Council members were scheduled to submit their individual budget priorities to city staff in June. A follow-up request from the Gazette asking for a recap of their budget priorities seems to indicate City Council has confidence in the budget work of the many seasoned department heads employed by the city.
"As strange as it may seem, I did not forward a budget priority to the city administration for the approaching budget. The taxpayer's money is tight and so is our budget. I trust the city manager and the city's department heads to create their priorities and then present them to the council, with explanations, on why the items should be funded. I believe the council, with a healthy dose of citizen input, could then prioritize the items for the coming budget year," said Councilman Jerry Calvin in his response.
Mayor Mike Gonzales offered a similar response and said he preferred City Council come together in unison on specific projects rather than submit a variety of individual priorities. Gonzales said he has historically encouraged city department heads to emphasize increasing budget reserves and buying down debt, in an effort to avoid customer price increases, and he believed that was still the best approach today.
"The only request I made was to consider the possibility of grinding the pile of trees and brush into mulch rather than burning them," said Councilman Bruce McDowell in his response.
Councilman Gene Weedin said he would respond after he was confident city staff had a chance to turn in their needs.
"I want to work with the staff on developing the budget and not put my ideas in front of their needs at this time," said Weedin.
Councilwoman Janet Hepp also expressed her confidence in city department heads and their track record of repeatedly receiving praise for fiscal frugalness during the city's annual audit.
"Barring unforeseen situations, each department budget is trimmed down to the bare necessities of running the city. Our department heads do a fantastic job in working with 'projected' revenue in determining their needs," said Hepp.