"The city of Kingston is in dire financial straits," Mayor Ronald Casey said Thursday at the city's first of two public hearings. "If we don't do something, you're going to continue to see [expenditures and debt] rise."
The council was presented with multiple budgets to consider, change and eventually adopt. However, before looking at numbers, the council must decide which positions to add or cut.
"We have to add or delete certain jobs," Casey said. "Some are needed but to save money, some may need to be done away with."
The city's charter calls for a city treasurer. Every member present commented on the qualifications a treasurer must have as well as a possible pay rate.
"We need a hard-nosed treasurer who will adhere to the budget," Councilman Ed Miklas said.
Doubt was raised at the idea of hiring a city administrator at this point in time and the council, overall, was opposed to hiring such a person until the city can become more financially stable and stronger. While many council members agreed that the need for a city manager is present, the funds, however, are not.
Concerning jobs, the city currently does not have job descriptions available, therefore, making it difficult to hire and fire persons who may not be performing all of the duties necessary for their position. The mayor and council agreed to work together to determine job descriptions as soon as possible to correct this error.
Moving on to financial figures, the council first looked at a budget as proposed by City Clerk Michele Jones.
While taking the proposal one line of funds at a time, Miklas proposed either cutting the council's salary in half or dropping it all together to save funds. The total salary for four council members was proposed at $7,200. By dropping or halving the salary, the amount paid for council social security - which is at $325 - and the amount paid for their medicare - at $110 - also would change.
Official and administrative salaries for the clerk and a treasurer for the remainder of 2012 is proposed at $42,320 and training for those two personnel would be $3,000.
After the recent line of strong thunderstorms that hit the outskirts of Kingston and Rome, the mayor expressed concern over the insurance policy for the city and wonders if tornadoes are covered. According to the clerk's budget, the city pays $3,000 for property insurance.
While all amounts are subject to change as the council continues to consider a budget that will allow the city to operate and provide services to its citizens, comments and public input are welcomed and encouraged. Please see The Daily Tribune News for announcements of future meetings and public hearings for the city of Kingston and all Bartow municipalities.