MARSHALL - Discussion of the city of Marshall's 2013 budget and planned capital improvement projects continued Tuesday night, during a work session of the Marshall City Council. Council members talked about some specific projects added to the city's proposed five-year Capital Improvement Plan, as well as possibilities for financing other projects.
The council will need to set a final 2013 budget and levy in December. In September, council members voted to adopt a preliminary levy that was a 3.5 percent increase over 2012. The final levy can be lower, but not higher, than the preliminary levy.
Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig presented council members with an update on the proposed plan. One new project that would be added to the plan was the possible renovation of facilities on A Street to move Marshall's local-access cable studio in. Martig said moving Studio 1 into municipally-owned space could lower costs for the city. The city leases Studio 1's current location on 3rd Street.
Martig said $25,000 from the cable capital outlay fund would be allocated for the renovation costs, including the cost of running cable into the new studio space. In the meantime, he said, the city would be looking into ending its lease for the current studio.
In discussing several other planned improvements, including the purchase of a rural pumper for the fire department and a dump truck for the street department, Martig said the city may want to consider a capital improvement bond or capital equipment note for funding.
Council members also discussed funding contributions from the Marshall Capstone Endowment Fund. Martig said based on budget requests, it was suggested that a total of about $10,000 be used to help fund three city projects. Staff suggested that $5,500 be spent for an irrigation system in Liberty Park, $1,800 on notebook computers for seniors' use at the Adult Community Center and $2,885 on banners for the Sounds of Summer festival.
Council member Jennie Hulsizer questioned whether the city could instead let the endowment accumulate for a longer period of time and use the funds for a larger project.
"I don't know if this is very well planned out," Hulsizer said. However, council members Dan Ritter and Larry Doom both expressed support for the suggested projects.
Martig said the use of the endowment funds was at the council's discretion.
In other business at the work session, Martig presented a proposal for new software to be used for city permitting processes. Martig said the system the city currently uses crashes frequently and once resulted in the loss of a week's worth of data, which had to be re-entered.
Martig said city staff had found a program called PermitWorks, which would perform much better and meet the city's needs. The initial cost for the software, licensing and training would be about $17,000. However, Martig said, the long-term savings would be worthwhile, much like with the city's paperless meeting software.
"Once we make the initial investment, it's not too bad," he said.
Council members's consensus was positive about replacing the software system.