Approval came after several special city council meetings
By Chad Koenen
The Henning City Council approved its 2021 budgets last week. The approval came after several special city council meetings, including one at the Henning Community Center last month.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the budgets last Monday night concerned how the revenue portions of the budget were derived. For example, Henning Mayor Darren Wiese said the electric fund showed a large increase in revenue in the electric residential line, going from approximately $400,000 in last year’s budget to $520,000 in 2021.
The city council approved an approximately 6 percent increase in electric rates last year, but Wiese said that the increase for the residential revenue line in the budget was closer to a 30 percent. He cautioned the council and city about being overly optimistic on revenues coming in and not meeting budgets later in the year.
City clerk/treasurer Kim Schroeder said the city came up the budgets based on historical data, but if the council wanted to change the numbers in the budget it could do so as well.
According to the budgets presented, the electric fund showed a more than $110,000 profit in 2021, with revenues projected at $973,500 and expenses at $863,770.
All of the city budgets presented showed a profit for 2021, with the exception of the water fund that showed expenses of $305,080 and revenue at $278,700, and Willow Creek, which shows revenue at $685,200 and expenses at $724,405.
Just three weeks after the Henning City Council unanimously approved suspending the city’s contribution to the employees HSA plan, the council reversed course and will not suspend its contributions to the plans—at least for the time being.
The council agreed to continue contributing money into the employees HSA accounts through the end of the year. The council approved suspending the HSA contributions as part of a cost saving measure in light of several upcoming utility projects.
Last Monday night, the council reversed course after hearing about the impact that such a move will have on employees midyear. Several employees spoke out during the meeting to say they chose a specific health insurance plan based on the city’s continued contribution to an HSA plan. The employees asked the council to reconsider its decision until the open enrollment period at the end of the year, when a new plan can be selected by employees.
The council agreed to fund the employees HSA contributions through the end of the year.
In other news
• Approved the hiring of a part-time LPN for Willow Creek, per the recommendation of the Willow Creek Commission.
• Discussed a second sewer account at Henning School that has reportedly not been charged for services in a number of years. The report at the meeting stated the school has been charged for one sewer account, but not a second, and that could generate approximately $5,000 per year in additional revenue for the city. The council said it will reach out to Henning School and explain the oversight and how it would like to move forward.
• Discussed installing a second mound at the demo derby site. The mound would be used for seating and could replace some of the aging bleachers used for the demo derby. The project would be spearheaded by the Henning Chamber of Commerce.
• Discussed forming a Highway 108 downtown aesthetics committee.
• Heard that the city utilities will need to cut power to the entire city for a period of time in May as part of its new electrical project. An exact date has yet-to-be determined.