City Manager Randy Bridge told council at their Thursday work session that the City’s financial situation is much better than it has been in years. He credited most of the improvement to the passage of the police levy.

At the work session, council members had their first exposure to the City’s 2017 budget that must be filed with the County.

The city is projected to end 2017 with nearly $500,000 in the general fund. “I would like to have that much in case we have an emergency,” said Bridge. “Right now if we had an emergency and had to pay out several hundred thousand dollars, we would have serious problems.”

The city’s Emergency Ambulance fund is expected to run a deficit in 2017. “Revenues have been stagnant and expenses have gone up,” said Bridge. “We serve a lot more hospitals than do other municipalities. It’s killing our gas.”

Bridge also said that the city’s soft billing has resulted in fewer people paying for EMS services. Under the soft billing policy, the resident’s insurance company is billed. What the insurance company doesn’t pay, the resident is billed, but no collection efforts are made.

Bridge also said that city employee’s insurance payments have been increasing. “We may have to renegotiate their insurance,” said Bridge. “They know it’s coming and the union rep knows it’s coming.” He said the city is paying $24,000 per month for employee insurance coverage.

Resident Rick Brest questioned the donation of the Belle Manor building to the city. He asked if the city was getting a run-down building.

“It has a new roof and the electric has been redone. Everything is up to code,” said Bridge. He also said that he would conduct a structural study and an environmental study before he signed anything.

Bridge also stated that the pool is doing very well. “The weather has helped us.”

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