Pratt city budget sees negative impact from COVID-19

Fran Brownell

Pratt City Manager Bruce Pinkall and City Finance Director Diana Garten reported to Pratt City commissioners at their May 4 meeting that preliminary work is underway for the 2021 budget. Garten said that COVID-19 is having a negative impact on the current city budget.

“There are so many unknowns and things change daily,” Garten said.

Pratt has applied to the National League of Cities for assistance for lost revenues. Garten said.

“Time will tell if we get that,” Garten said. “That would have an impact on both the 20 and 21 budgets.”

All commission board members were in attendance at city hall for the meeting, even though it was aired as a Zoom session.

Mayor Gary Schmidt presided with Commissioners Doug Meyer, Don Peters, Zach Deeds and Jason Leslie following social distancing protocol by each commissioner leaving an empty seat on either side, which bumped Leslie to the staff seating section.

Pinkall noted there had been a confrontation recently between police and a park visitor who was in the process of removing the tape around the playground equipment at Sixth Street Park when officers intervened. Pinkall said the incident, which was posted on social media, did not result in any injuries or arrest.

CIty park playgrounds will be re-opening this week for children to play in.

Police Chief Nate Humble, attending remotely, reported a spike in thefts, including an armed robbery May1 at Kwik Shop on West Highway 54, which did not result in injuries.

Search for the Kwik Shop suspect is continuing, Chief Humble said, and officers are also continuing investigations into reports of thefts from parked vehicles. Humble issued a reminder to city residents to lock vehicles and not leave valuable items in parked cars.

The commissioners took action on the single agenda item to unanimously approved amendments to five city ordinances in preparation for the Global Fee Ordinance that the city has adopted to remove the specified dollar amounts in city ordinances in favor of the wording “prescribed fee.”

On motion of Commissioner Meyer, ordinances approved May 4 were Ordinance 2045-Appeal of Revocation of CMB License, Ordinance 2046-Change of Location of CMB Licensee, Ordinance 2047-Occupational Tax for Retail Sales of Alcoholic Liquors, Ordinance 2048-Occupational Tax for Class A & B Private Clubs and Ordinance 2049-Penalty for Violation of Section 8.04.080.

City Attorney Regina Probst, attending remotely, said the full slated of ordinance updates should be completed in the next three to four commission sessions.

Public Works Director Russ Rambat, one of two city employees in attendance, said that he is moving ahead with minor repairs to the municipal swimming pool so that it can open, if COVID-19 regulations allow.

Meyer said he had recently noticed a biker riding on the sidewalk in the 200 block of South Main and questioned if that is legal, with Chief Humble stating that it is unlawful to ride a bike on downtown sidewalks, though bikes may be pushed on the sidewalks.

Kramer told commissioners that city utility bill payments have been coming in through the drop box at the entrance.

“It’s been full three times today,” Kramer said, but added that she had sent out Cycle 2 delinquency notices earlier in the day.

“I normally send out about 70,” Kramer said. “Today, I sent out 111.”

Commissioners recessed to hold a 15-minute executive session related to non-elected personnel in a separate area of City Hall and reconvened in commission chambers at 6 p.m. to adjourn the meeting.