There are six seats up for grabs and there will be seven candidates on ballot Nov. 6 seeking a place on the Wilmore City Council.
Over the next two-year term, those elected will face several tough decisions and many possible opportunities, all of which hinge on a skeletal 2012-13 fiscal year budget.
In order to reach a balance budget this cycle the council approved to raise the property tax rate in Wilmore 13.1 percent higher than it was in 2010, with much of the increase compensating for lower property values. Councilman Lynn Cooper was only one to vote no.
Despite their efforts to create a balanced budget, within the first quarter the city is at a $36,000 deficit in its budget and has already transferred 59 percent, or $475,688, of its surplus into the general fund.
Finance director Hayley Ellis said she is confident though that city can maintain services and continue to make new improvements throughout the coming year, because at this time property taxes have not yet been calculated.
The city council has also made two major strides toward generating revenue.
The first is a focused effort to recoup owed back taxes by reuniting with Municipal Revenue Solutions, LLC in which as much as $50,000 to $60,000 may be recouped from back taxes owed since 2007.
The second effort is the wrapping up of the city’s annexation boundaries with the state map in Frankfort that may generate as much a $9,000, according to Wilmore utilities and public works director Dave Carlstedt.
However, neither of those benefits will be seen until the next fiscal-year budget. On top of that, the city has recently taken over the building on Maple Street which was formerly the home of Crouse Concrete, Inc.
The city paid Hager Construction Company $16,270 to demolish part of the structure, haul away the debris and clear out the trees.
The council has not decided what to do with the remaining building though several options; including, turning it into a green space, giving it to the fire department or creating a small business plaza.
Also, the council is seriously considering take over the Wilmore Public Cemetery which is currently owned and operating by Charlie Crouse but he wishes to donate it to the city. Crouse estimates that at the graves’ current price there is about $400,000 more to make from sales but the yearly cost of upkeep is about roughly $25,000 to $30,000. The first year’s upkeep may cost as much as $50,000 if city manpower is used.
There is a $49,000 revolving fund for the upkeep and several of the council members have suggested ways, including creating a foundation and/or out sourcing the services, to offset the costs.
A couple council members and the mayor have family buried in the Wilmore Cemetery and have stated numerous times it’s a moral obligation to maintain the cemetery though they most agree it will not be a financial success for the city.
There is also the issue with some of the departments which are using outdated equipment, including the sanitation department hoping for a new garbage truck and the volunteer fire department that also needs a new ladder truck.
There are several other issues but the tight budget remains the dark cloud hanging over the next term of the Wilmore City Council.
Whatever the outcome of the election the city needs to find new revenue streams, whether it is by supporting tourism and building up a business scene on Main Street, and/or strengthening its current flow through better regulations, taxation or working with the local institution (Asbury University and Asbury Theological Seminary) to increase the benefits they provide to the city.