Danville Commission preps for budget planning

Published 8:49 am Tuesday, January 23, 2018

It may be the dead of winter, but budget season is warming up for the City of Danville.

City Commissioners approved Monday a schedule of meetings to be held from now through June as they build a budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The schedule includes a special called “retreat” on Valentine’s Day; two meetings to address design of a new downtown fire station; a six-and-a-half-hour meeting in March to review community agency funding requests; a special meeting to review results of a survey of city residents; and slots for two additional special called meetings, all in addition to city’s twice-monthly regular meetings.

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“You have before you the budget calendar, and it needs your approval, whether you like it or not,” Mayor Mike Perros said.

“If we don’t like it, can we vote no?” Commissioner J.H. Atkins joked.

Ben Kleppinger/ben.kleppinger@amnews.com
Danville Mayor Mike Perros calls Monday’s Danville City Commission meeting to order.

“(You would) face the wrath of (City Manager) Mr. (Ron) Scott,” Perros replied.

The commission did approve the meeting schedule, 5-0.

Scott said the survey that the city will be using as one way to hear from city residents has received around 300 responses so far. It closes at the end of the month; Scott encouraged city residents to visit Danville’s website at danvilleky.org and click on “citizen survey” to fill it out before then.

Scott said it’s uncertain whether the survey will gather enough responses to to make its results statistically significant, but “if we have 300 and upward responses, those are many times over what we get in terms of public opinion in our hearings that we hold on the budget, so I think that the response will be useful even if (it’s) not statistically valid.”

Family Services

City commissioners also heard a report from one of the community agencies Danville currently funds with general fund dollars — the Family Services Association of Boyle County.

The organization “provides emergency financial assistance to residents of Boyle County and we are on our 101st year of service to this county,” said Executive Director Crystal McPherson.

McPherson told commissioners how halfway through the current fiscal year, one of the agency’s best statistics has to do with how few people return for help again: Out of all the people the agency has helped with money, 94 percent of them have not returned.

“We are able to provide assistance for individuals and then they do not return in that calendar year because we’re able to provide the assistance, along with referrals to agencies that can help them to be more (stable) financially,” McPherson said. 

The agency sees similar success with individuals it refers to other agencies that can help: 84 percent of those people did not have to come back for further help.

“What that means is that people that come in for anything other than financial assistance do not return for financial assistance,” she said. “So more times than not we’re able to help them without actually having to write a check, so those numbers are looking great.”

That ability to help without spending money may be more important in the coming fiscal year, Perros said, echoing warnings city officials have been giving for a year or more that community agency funding may need to be cut from the city budget as other costs go up.

Perros said the days of the city being able to give substantial amounts to a large number of community agencies are “rapidly coming to a close.”

Whatever funds the city is able to give to community agencies will be allocated in part based on the results of agency presentations, scheduled for 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at Danville City Hall on March 22.

Hear the public

Continuing the budget theme of Monday’s meeting, local resident Wilma Brown spoke about budget matters during the commission’s “hear the public” agenda item.

Brown, who also spoke at Danville’s first 2018 meeting on Jan. 8, said she was unhappy with how City Manager Scott had replied to her comments then after she had returned to her seat.

“Two weeks ago, during ‘hear the public,’ I made some comments concerning city expenditures, and after that, the city manager decided he needed to respond to that, and I did not have an opportunity to respond to his response, so I am here revisiting that today,” Brown said.

At the Jan. 8 meeting, Brown complained about Scott’s salary and criticized the hiring of a part-time historic preservationist when the city says its budgets are getting tighter. She also criticized the city for hiring consultants she feels are unnecessary.

Brown said she would have less of a problem if the city was talking about raising salaries for police and firefighters.

“I think sometimes the big picture is not looked at,” she said at the time. “… Pretty soon, you’ll be hiring a consultant to find out if it’s feasible to hire another consultant.”

After Brown had finished on Jan. 8, Scott said “normally, I don’t respond to comments from citizens … only in the interest of accuracy will I respond tonight.”

Scott noted a figure for his salary previously reported by The Advocate-Messenger and cited by Brown during her comments was inaccurate and had later been corrected by the newspaper.

And Scott defended the hiring of the preservationist, noting that the position was hired to fulfill requirements of remaining a “certified local government,” which city commissioners had voted in favor of that same night.

Fast forward to this most recent city commission meeting: Brown said it was her understanding that city officials were not supposed to respond to comments made during “hear the public.” She said she will “take a correction” on Scott’s total compensation of $130,000, but his comments on the historic preservationist “had to do with his pet project.”

The “worst” thing about Scott’s comments, according to Brown, was correcting and challenging her comments.

By doing that, “he says to the public, you can get up and say whatever you want about the budget, but you might be challenged on what you’re going to say,” she said.

“I really take exception to things like that and I wanted to get back up and say that it’s very difficult to get up here. Not enough of the public gets up here, but they certainly are not going to get up here at all if a city employee or one of you is going to refute what they say after they sit down.”

Brown said she would definitely “be back and make more comments about the budget later.”

Brown was the only one to speak during “hear the public” and no further comments about the matters she addressed were made during the commission meeting.

In other business, the city commission:

• heard that the next public meeting on the city’s wayfinding signage project has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30; and

• approved a second reading of an ordinance increasing tax incentives for Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems Inc. in conjunction with increased state tax incentives, thanks to a bigger-than-planned expansion at the company’s Danville factory.


The meeting schedule approved by Danville City Commission Monday includes the following meetings and notable dates outside of the regular scheduled meetings held at 5:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month:

• Feb. 14, 12 p.m. — city commission retreat

• Feb. 21 — “Meeting to discuss downtown fire station design/costs/related issues”

• March 2 — “Deadline for submittal of community agency applications for funding”

• March 14 — A second meeting on the downtown fire station

• March 22, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. — agency presentations and rankings by city commissioners

• March 29, 5:30 p.m. — Review of results from the National Citizens Survey and additional time for “hear the public”

• April 26, 5:30 p.m. — Special meeting to present a preliminary budget

• May 16 — Reserved for optional additional special meeting for budget discussions

The schedule also calls for specific budget actions at three regular meetings:

• May 29, 5:30 p.m. — Presentation of proposed budget

• June 11, 5:30 p.m. — First reading of proposed budget ordinance

• June 25, 5:30 p.m. — Second reading and final adoption of budget ordinance