WEBSTER COUNTY, KY (2/22/12) – A cooler summer and a warmer winter this past year have both contributed to a significant decline in utility revenues for the city of Providence, according to Providence Mayor Eddie Gooch.
Records reflecting the monthly income from the city-owned utilities between July 1, 2011, and Jan. 31 of this year are at roughly $310,000 less than the same time period during the previous fiscal year. Partly because of the decline in revenue, which helps cover expenses for the city’s ambulance and fire department, Gooch said changes in how the departments operate was unavoidable. Last fall, the city switched to a three-person crew per shift, and doubled its off-time for EMTs, who man both the ambulance and fire department services. More recently, Providence Fire Chief Brad Curry has begun working toward organization of a volunteer fire department to assist the paid staff.
A spending freeze is also in place, Gooch said.
Along with the reduced revenues, the city of Providence is anticipating the outcome of a state audit, apparently prompted by the filing of a request to be paid overtime the state Supreme Court said some fire department employees across Kentucky might be entitled to. While the final amount to be paid has yet to be determined, Gooch and Curry have been projecting it could end up costing the city as much as $110,000. Once the amount is determined, the city will have two weeks to pay the employees.
Gooch said he is working on finding new ways to generate revenue for the city to help offset the losses in funds. One idea he has long touted is construction of a recycling center where the city could take and sort its own trash, rather than driving it to a landfill.
Meanwhile, Gooch said the city is meeting its obligations and paying its bills, including the Providence Municipal Golf Course it bought from the Providence Country Club a couple of years ago when the bank holding the mortgage foreclosed on the note. Gooch said the city has made two payments from state aid LGEA funds granted to Providence, and that plans are in development to set up the loan on a regular mortgage. Ideally, he said, the facility will generate enough revenue that it can sustain itself, but added that he would like to see the Providence Tourism Commission subsidize the facility with funding it collects through a three percent city tax on food and lodging.
“I think they can do things that will generate more profits. It was always the intent to have the tourism commission help subsidize (the golf course),” Gooch said. “I’m disappointed that more isn’t happening with the tourism money.”
Gooch quickly noted that the commission hasn’t been approached about the idea of doing more to provide funding support at the golf course, but said it’s something he hopes to take it before them for consideration at an upcoming meeting.
Last week, the tourism commission approved a request from the Providence Chamber of Commerce to help sponsor a “spring fling” type event at the Providence Municipal Golf Course on Saturday, April 21.
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