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Helper fortifies employee base as budget time looms

By CLAUDETTE LANGLEY
Sun Advocate reporter


The Helper pool will have a new lifeguard/ concessions manager.

Just in time for the busy days of summer and review of next year's tentative budget, Helper City Council members weighed hiring employees to buck up several departments at their meeting last Thursday.

A candidate to fill one of three open positions with the fire department was approved, a part-time building department employee was moved to a full time permanent status, an assistant for the Western Mining and Railroad Museum was approved and the pool's new lifeguard is coming on line immediately.

"She is a bright light," said Councilman Dean Armstrong about Cassie Christman, who has been hired to work at the pool. "She is a lifeguard, a concessions manager and can train lifeguards."

Armstrong seemed particularly pleased that Christman will be able to train young people to work as lifeguards at the city's swim center.

"We will be able to hire as young as 15-year-olds on a work permit," he said.

In addition he said she is a boon to the snacking side of the recreation facility.

"We did not have experienced concessions help before," he said. "And she (Christman) has a science related degree."

It looks like Christman will certainly be earning her hourly wage of $13, as she will not only make sure the pool is safe and keep the concessions stand up and running but she will also be called on to promote the ammenity within the community.

"We will have her go out and market the pool too," said Mayor Mike Dalpiaz.

One of Helper Library's most active advocates as it turns out has also become a valued employee with the city's building department.

Mark Wickman, who serves as chairman for the library advisory committee has spent the last six months helping keep Helper's facilities and grounds in tip-top shape.

Councilman Kirk Mascaro was on hand at the May 1 meeting to propose moving Wickman from part-time status to full time and offer him the city's benefit package.

Wickman got another boon when the council members also wanted to give him a raise. He seemed surprised by the offer of an additional $1 an hour.

His response was uncharacteristically humble.

"I really appreciate your offer, but if it will cause problems with the budget I don't have to have it," he said.

Despite Wickman's personal offer to help keep city costs contained, his raise and new status was approved.

The business of fortifying city staff segued into the budget discussion for fiscal years 2008/09 and its challenges.

"We have some benefit raises for employees," Dalpiaz said. "We are looking at 3 percent for city employee's insurance and 3 percent for police retirement only."

The council was presented with its working budget that will be tweaked and adjusted over the next six weeks as the deadline draws near for the completed budget to go to public hearing.

The tenative projected general fund revenues and expenditures for 2008/09 are $1,676,355 which is down from $1,842, 730 in 2007/08.

In addition to the general fund, the city has projected revenues and expenses for several separate funding areas. Each of them is balanced between income and expenses, they are as follows:

Funds 2008/09 - 2007/08

• Museum $52,700 - $54,500

• Capital Projects Museum $910,000 - $610,000

• Redevelopment $5,000 (no expenditures) - $5,000

• Rio Hotel Fund $21,000 - $19,000

• Cap Proj Swimming Pool $300,000 - $1.5 million

• Water $538,977 - $538, 977

• Sewer $255,000 - $255,000

The Helper City Council meets the first and third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Helper Auditorium, 19 South Main St. For more information or to be put on the agenda contact Jona M. Skerl at 472-5391.






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