The amendments focused on line items for the city’s general, water and garbage fund budgets as well as the capital budget. When the budget was approved earlier this year, a number of the line items were set at $1 as an initial amount, with the expectation the council would make later changes. City Manager Kevin McBurnett said it was part of an effort to determine exactly where the city’s money was going within each department.
“Instead of taking the time to go into broad categories from past budgets, and try and separate them out into more specific categories that were created this year for the past expenditures to try and gain that data, we were able to just put a dollar in them and start [tracking] them through the year,” he said.
McBurnett told the council he expected another set of amendments for the 2014 budget.
Another amendment for the 2013 budget was passed as well, which related to the previous purchase of a police vehicle and garbage cans.
The meeting also saw the first reading of an ordinance on synthetic marijuana. The ordinance is a mirror of similar laws passed by Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor and the Carterville City Council. Emerson Police Chief Stan Bradley said the ordinance broadly bans synthetic drugs imitating marijuana rather than focusing on specific chemical compounds like the state law.
Before the meeting the council held a work session to discuss the various budget amendments as well as hear an update on the LakePoint Sporting Community from Earl Ehrhart.
Ehrhart reviewed the number of businesses and sporting organizations coming to the LakePoint complex, which includes Bass Pro Shop and Perfect Game.
“We’re not just building it and wishing they’ll show up,” Ehrhart said of the complex. “We’re building it based on solid rent ... and those who are coming here.”
When asked about the hotel situation, Ehrhart said three companies — Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn and Spring Hill Suites by Marriott — were confirmed to build on the LakePoint complex. Additional hotels, Ehrhart said, would likely come later in the process.
“They kind of just follow the herd. They don’t get in like restaurants and do it first,” he said. “I think the hotels will ... actually, Hampton and Holiday Express are moving as fast as they can to get their construction started in the next six months. I think you’ll see Wingate and Hampton ... right behind that.
“I think they’ll be open by the end of next year. I dont’ think they’ll be open simultaneously with the Perfect Game fields. I’m hoping — and I know they are too — they’ll be open by the end of the year.”
With events scheduled next year for the south campus, Ehrhart said LakePoint was working to have most of the campus open by the end of 2014. As soon as work is done on the south campus, he said construction would begin on the north campus. The entire project, including other businesses finishing their own construction on LakePoint land, will be done sometime in 2016, he said.
The city council went into an executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss personnel and real estate issues. No action was taken.
The Emerson City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. at city hall.