The proposed budget was the main topic of business at the council's bi-monthly meeting Dec. 21.
Donna Cruse, Main Street Hardy President, first spoke to council requesting its generosity when considering continued assistance in funding the Main Street Hardy program.
Following Cruse's request, council considered the annual operating budget. Immediately, Alderwomen Margaret Harness and Amy Hussung had several concerns and questions with the budget as it was presented. Discussion ensued.
Harness said she felt council should give more than $4,000 to Main Street, explaining that its budget had been cut in half twice. She had several questions as to the reason for yet another proposed cut to the organization. Harness also said she felt the camper park needed a lot of work, but was something that could bring income to the Hardy area and felt more money should have been designated towards repairs. Harness also questioned the health insurance provided for Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton and her family, as well as for Clerk Treasurer Carolyn Groves. Harness said she pays her own insurance and wondered why Thornton and Groves cannot save the city some money by doing the same.
Another one of the alderwoman's concerns was a proposed $6,000 travel expense, as well as an increase over last years budget, for the senior center. She said she wasn't opposed to giving the center money but said it isn't open as often as in the past. Thornton told her this was due to the increase in the cost of the Meals on Wheels program and the fuel and food required for it.
The final question posed to the budget committee dealt with the Woodland Hills Fire Station. Harness said there was $6,000 budgeted for it and asked Alderman Hicks if that amount would be enough to complete the construction costs. Hicks told her, "It won't put in everything." He explained the department would try to get grants for the remainder of the cost.
Harness was visibly irritated, as she only received complete answers to one of her questions.
Next, Alderwoman Amy Hussung addressed council with many of the same concerns, as well as a few others. Hussung said she would like to see a breakdown in the raises given to all city employees, before the vote on the budget. She was told there is a three percent, across the board raise given to all employees, yet did not receive the documentation she requested prior to the vote. Hussung's concerns dealt with two relatively new city employees. One, a police officer who was hired in at the same pay as Officer Carroll Traw was being paid at his retirement a few months ago. Hussung said she did not doubt the new employees' performance, but felt they didn't deserve the same raise as for those who had been with the city for a long period of time. Thornton and Police Chief Ernie Rose addressed this concern and said the raises were detailed in the city's handbook and they had to give raises straight across the board to everyone, if anyone was to receive one. Hussung's reply was simply, "I did not agree with this when it passed and do not agree with it now."
Hussung' s other concern was the doubling of the amount of money for the Hardy Christmas Parade. She asked if some of this money could come from the Advertising and Promotions Committee. Thornton told her the city pays for the parade.
Hussung also stressed the need for the support of the Main Street Hardy program. She said they were cut in half last year and felt it wasn't fair to cut their funding in half again for 2011.
A lengthly discussion ensued about the Hardy Camper Park and the much needed work. Hussung said they need a person there to collect fees for the park and said there are only five camping areas that are up to the requirements for campers. One of the options was to close the park for the repairs. Hussung said, regardless of the option, money needs to be invested in the park.
With no further discussion or answers, Alderman Raymond Hicks called for the question and council voted to pass the budget as it was written, with both Alderwomen Harness and Hussung voting against the budget.