BRITT | The Britt City Council has agreed not to fund more than $20,000 in outside agencies’ budget requests in 2018-19.

The decision was made Tuesday, Jan. 30, when the city council met with Cindy Kendall, interim city administrator, in special session to continue discussing its budget.

“The simple fact of that is everybody wants money, and we don’t have enough,” said Councilman Curt Gast.

During the meeting, the council reviewed $82,396 in outside budget requests.

The meeting was held one week after the city council learned its general fund was strapped and it was likely unable to grant all the outside funding requests, especially as more organizations are requesting more money.

“We can’t keep doing that,” said Councilman Chad Luecht.

At the council’s last meeting, it categorized each request in tier one, two or three based on the community’s benefit from the organization or event.

Events like the Britt Draft Horse Show, Hobo Days and Hancock County District Fair were pegged as top tier events because the number of people each draws to the city of Britt.

Others would be considered tier two or three.

The approved requests (in alphabetical order) are as follows:

  • Britt Draft Horse Show: $3,500
  • Britt Industrial Development Corp., commonly known as BIDCO: $10,000
  • Evergreen Cemetery: $7,600
  • Hancock County Economic Development: $5,500
  • Hancock County District County Fair: $1,500
  • Hancock County Historical Society: $3,000
  • National Hobo Museum: $1,696
  • The Hobo Day Association, a nonprofit that organizes the National Hobo Convention and Hobo Days in Britt: $15,000

The council decided to provide funding to BIDCO and Hancock County Economic Development because they are marketing the city’s nine-lot commercial park positioned between U.S. Highway 18 and Diagonal Street.

“We need to do everything we can to market the commercial park because we only stand to gain getting that thing up,” Gast said.

In discussion about the historical society and Hobo Day Association, Councilwoman Stacy Swenson suggested if the city plans on reducing funding for those organizations it should provide advance notice. The council agreed with Mayor Ryan Arndorfer and Luecht, members of Hobo Day Association, abstaining.

“It’s a large number, but ... it’s Hobo days,” she said.

The event was organized by the local chamber and city before the Hobo Day Association took over its operations in 2011.

The reduced requests (in alphabetical order) are:

  • Britt Golf Course, formerly the Britt Country Club: Rebating $7,379 in taxes
  • Hobo Art Gallery: $433, a $3,619 decrease

Over the past few months, the city council has met with the golf course owners to discuss rebating the course’s taxes so it is closer to breaking even. The discussion began after the golf course was annexed into the city.

In deciding to rebate the course’s taxes, the council agreed not to provide it the $15,000 request for the upkeep of its property.

Kendall suggested council require the golf course request the tax rebate annually, so it can be reviewed.

Part of the Hobo Art Gallery’s request was the cost of three months operations, and Luecht and Gast voiced their concerns about providing such funding with a private business within the gallery. The council decided to fund the portion of the gallery’s budget to purchase gold name plates for the hobo portraits.

The city council decided not to provide $1,000 to the Hancock County Agricultural Museum because the amount of money it had in its cash balance.

“I feel like this is one that can withstand a year of us not giving to them,” Arndorfer said.

The council also decided not to provide $5,000 in funding this fiscal year for the Remembering Our Fallen, a national memorial unveiled in 2017 that honors individuals who were killed while serving in the U.S. military in the War on Terror since 9/11, scheduled to be in Britt from April 26 to 30, due to budget constraints.

At the last meeting, Kendall told the council by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2018, Britt is projected to have $9,567, in its general fund balance to use for unbudgeted items that may arise.

“As much as we all want to give Jerry money, there's nothing we can give him this year,” Arndorfer said.

Kendall is working with City Attorney Earl Hill and the council to write a policy related to outside agencies’ funding requests. The policy would outline the city’s rationale for funding outside requests.

A public hearing for the 2018-19 budget will be held Tuesday, Feb. 13 at City Hall.

In other city council news:

  • Arndorfer informed the city council that John Madson, the city’s former public works director and longtime department employee, rejected its offer to fill the vacant public works position. Madson left the city of Britt in January 2015 for a job with Hancock County Secondary Roads. Public Works Director Vance Hagen is expected to bring another hire recommendation to the council on Feb. 6.
  • The city has received one application for the Britt city administrator/clerk position so far, Arndorfer said.

Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.