City budget has no money for Business Affairs boss

Fort Dodge City Engineer Chad Schaeffer presented the proposed budget for the Department of Business Affairs and Community Growth Monday, and the numbers in that spending plan will mean he’ll continue to have oversight on that agency.

Schaeffer has been the interim director of the department since Dennis Plautz resigned in February 2012 to become chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance. The proposed budget for 2013-2014 doesn’t include any money to pay a new director, so Schaeffer will continue to manage the department in addition to conducting his engineering duties.

Councilmen Dean Hill and Mark Taylor called for including money for a director’s salary.

Taylor said if the money is not in the budget, it will be difficult to put it back in later.

Mayor Matt Bemrich and councilmen Kim Alstott and Dave Flattery said a talented city staff combined with cooperation with the Growth Alliance make filling the position less necessary. They added that a projected $380,000 deficit in the general fund would probably make hiring a new director impossible.

City Manager David Fierke said Plautz is still doing many of the things he did while he was a city employee.

”We really didn’t lose Dennis,” he said. ”We just don’t have to pay for him anymore.”

The council did not direct Fierke to add money to the budget for a director’s position.

Last year, when it was known Plautz would leave the city staff for the Growth Alliance job, Fierke presented a budget that did not include money for the position. The council directed him to restore the money, but a new director was not hired.

Fierke has said he wants to find ways to have the city function without that position as part of his lean government initiative to reduce costs.

Schaeffer said Monday that he spends about 15 hours a week with the Department of Business Affairs and Community Growth. He added that the city’s engineering and planning personnel work together more closely than before.

The spending plan for the department was reviewed as city officials continue their work on the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. State law requires cities to have their budgets completed by mid-March.

The department’s budget is divided into two components: planning and inspections.

Schaeffer said the proposed planning budget is $208,150. That’s down about $43,000 from the current level of $251,680. Eliminating money for the director’s position is responsible for much of that decrease.

The proposed budget expects $31,100 in revenue from various fees.

The inspection budget is set at $159,850.

The budget anticipates $273,200 worth of inspection revenue, with much of that coming from building permit fees.

Because the department administers things like tax increment financing districts, some money from such sources is used to pay for its operations. The budget presented Monday includes $100,000 from tax increment financing, $70,000 from the rehabilitation repayment account and $30,000 from the administration of grants to help pay the department’s expenses.

The spending plan calls for taking $63,700 from the general fund for the department.

Eight people would work in the department, which is the same staffing level it has now.