The issue of donations made by the city to private individuals or groups was a big item of discussion in the recent Huntington City Council meeting. Mayor Jackie Wilson explained that the state auditor's office has made it very clear that Huntington, along with most of the other cities, has been doing the process incorrectly.
Mayor Wilson said that for every expenditure that is not named in the budget, it must go through the public hearing process for approval. That means that if a group, such as a high school club, comes to the city for a donation, the city must hold a public hearing before the money can be donated.
The process of holding a public hearing is lengthy and costs the city for advertising; these costs would be difficult for the city to absorb. An alternative for Huntington, and other cities, is to budget donations into the yearly budget as line item expenses to individuals or groups that are given annually.
"We will have to identify those groups that we give to regularly, such as the rodeo club, 4-H, and the fair pageant, in our annual budget. We have donation limits already in place, and if we put the averages in the budget, we can avoid having to hold public hearings for donations," said Mayor Wilson. "Some towns have completely done away with giving any donations," she said.
Councilman Bob Mills suggested doing away with all donations, other than those that are already budgeted for. Councilman Mark Justice stated that the city is for the residents, and it is their job to help when asked. In several months, the town will begin a new budget, and those donations that take place annually can be entered into the budget then. The council agreed.
In other business conducted by the Huntington City Council, one new business license was issued. In another matter, a resident asked the council for help with the approach to his driveway. He stated that when the curb and gutter was put in, it was at least 18 inches lower than the surface of the road, creating a deep dip that his vehicles scrape in entering or leaving his driveway.
Councilman Mark Justice stated that when the new season's construction projects begin, someone from the construction company and the city will take a look and figure a way to solve the problem.
Councilperson Julie Jones stated that the youth city council is eager to begin the project at the cemetery. She said the plaque is finished, the plans are drawn up for the installation of the flagpole, and bids are in for the fabrication of the markers for the unmarked graves in the cemetery.
There are currently 210 unmarked graves in the Huntington Cemetery, and the youth city council is undertaking a project to mark those sites. The square metal markers will be set into a cement block and installed at the grave sites. The flagpole and monument will also be installed by the youth council. Their goal is to have this project completed by Memorial Day.
Mayor Wilson announced that Huntington City cleanup will be April 16-May 16. There will be six dumpsters for residents to deposit yard waste, at two separate locations in the city. She also stated that the renovation project for the old city hall building is beginning. The building will be used for storage for the time being.
Councilperson Hilary Gordon stated that the rodeo grounds and announcer's booth have had some damage over the winter months.
She has begun the process to have the repairs taken care of and the rodeo is scheduled for June 3-4.