Council members object to budget

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


During a special budget meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the proposed 2019 budget with city department heads, Washington City Council members Fran Stigers and Steve Gault objected to certain parts of the budget.

Stigers questioned during the parks department presentation when discussion turned to the city pool, questioned the contract with the YMCA of Washington County to administer the pool.

?I have had people come up to me and question why the Y is getting $32,000 per year because the programming is smaller and less educational, not only for the kids, but for the coaches,? Stigers said. ?Seven years ago there were almost 400 kids in the baseball program and last year there were 223. They are getting more money for doing less.?

He also said there was no instruction for T-ball coaches. Stigers said it appeared the city is paying more money and getting less work out of it and said people had asked why the city wasn?t getting more ?bang for its buck.? He said the city needed to look at the agreements to ensure it was getting what it pays for.

?Realistically, the Y is not the only game in town anymore,? Stigers said. ?We have the Washington Area Softball Association; you have the Washington Area Soccer Program; you also have Youth Wrestling; we have five teams just for baseball and for basketball there is nine.?

Mayor Jaron Rosien suggested Stigers examine the agreement with the Y to administer the pool and look for solutions.

Council member Elaine Moore also said she had heard through the Washington Soccer Association that the association was doing many things the Y should have been doing, including cleaning up the fields.

City administrator Brent Hinson said the agreements were usually run through the park board. He also spoke of plans for the management of the wellness park, which will be discussed within the next six months.

Toward the end of the meeting, as council members had the opportunity to make final comments, Gault strongly objected to the proposed plan for the proposed wellness park, saying he had voted for the park based on the promise that it would include a 4-1/2 acre retention pond that would be used to help inflow and infiltration problems the city has had. He said that the plan does not include the pond.

?I was misled about it and I am not happy about it,? he said.

Hinson said the proposal for the wellness park now includes four ball diamonds, a soccer field and a standing water pond. He said he and Gault had discussed the issue and he had said he wanted to see the retention pond as part of the project. He said the standing water pond would provide more benefit.

?I don?t have proof of it because we haven?t been able to get that engineering nexus to show that is the case, but we have a huge wet weather flow through the manholes in that area and we have a huge basin and those things are connected,? he said. ?By putting in significant stormwater detention we are probably majorly reducing the amount of stormwater running into the sanitary sewer.?

Mayor Jaron Rosien agreed it was appropriate for Gault to object as he had. Hinson said it is tough trying to make a budge twork for phase one of a project and trying to get everything in. He said the council would have future opportunities to include the pond in the project.