Golf fee and transport rate hikes on table in Kingman

City's budget balancing act moves into the final stages today

Main: JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The Kingman Area Regional Transit buses.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Inset: Mayor John Salem

Main: JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The Kingman Area Regional Transit buses.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Inset: Mayor John Salem

KINGMAN - Fees charged by city departments are on the table today, including those for Cerbat Hills Golf Course and Kingman Area Regional Transit, as Council members look for ways to raise revenue.

Today's City Council meeting will largely consist of tying up old business such as department rate hikes and the city's 2011-2012 tentative budget. New business will consist of discussing ways to deal with Mohave County's jail fee increase as well as an update on the results of the Kingman Chamber of Commerce business walk conducted in April.

When looking at revenue and budget options, Council will decide whether or not to increase various city fees, including those charged at the golf course.

Retired Director of Parks and Recreation Darel Fruhwirth proposed rate hikes to the city's golf commission on March 31. They were accepted and forwarded to Council. Fruhwirth estimated the increased rates would raise revenue by $52,000 if play stays consistent with last year.

Council will also look at options regarding the local sales tax rate to help with Kingman's chip seal and overlay programs as well as public safety. Discussion of possibly hiring a supervisor for the new 911 call center will occur as well.

Mayor John Salem said departments worked non-stop over the last few months researching, cost cutting and coming up with fee hike proposals.

"The work is exhaustive," Salem said. "They deserve commendation for their efforts."

When the county decided to increase the jail per diem rate from $79.26 to $98.74, city officials were caught by surprise. Tonight, Council will discuss ways to mitigate the increase. Some options include electronic monitoring, an intergovernmental agreement with another area to provide jail services and reducing or suspending the amount of time people serve in jail.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors adopted the increase, but at the behest of Kingman City Manager Jack Kramer, an audit of the figures is underway to see if there are ways to lower the fee. If an auditor finds a way, the Board has the option of lowering the figure.

Salem said tonight's discussion will be just that - a discussion. It would be premature to adopt anything regarding per diem jail fees until the results of the audit are in.

One other topic of interest focuses on KART's proposed advertising schedule, fare increases and reduction of service.

On April 20, the Transit Advisory Commission accepted and forwarded a proposal from KART Superintendent Laura Henry that cut the department's local share of cost from $385,302 to $233,849. The savings come from estimated advertising revenue, 50-cent fare hikes for all, a one-year deferral of capital purchases (except for $10,000) and the elimination of curb-to-curb service for the general public.

The $10,000 cost gets shared with the federal government, so the local share of capital purchases is actually closer to $2,000.

Although Salem said he is sensitive to the needs of transit-dependent people with low income, he argued that taxpayers pay for the KART subsidy, and at this point it is not equitable.

KART costs the city more than any other service, and in this economy more households need to feel the pinch, said Salem. It is not fair that the majority of the population has to pay the way for a small population of low-income families, he added.

User fees will never cover the whole cost of KART, but the gap needs to be smaller and more equitable, said Salem.

"The proposed user fee increases are more than fair," Salem said.

Once old business discussion concludes, Council will decide whether or not to adopt the 2011-2012 fiscal year tentative budget, which will set a ceiling on budget appropriations, and open the door for final budget approval on May 17.

Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the City Complex's Council Chambers on 310 N. Fourth Street.