The last time McPherson park shelters got new roofing was in 1979.

The last time McPherson park shelters got new roofing was in 1979.

Replacing those roofs, among other concerns, is one of parks department director Paul Katzer’s goals for the next three years.

His concerns were raised during a city budget hearing Wednesday. The budget hearings cover city departments for the next three years.

Katzer’s requested roofing budget comes out of a new improvements account. His request includes $12,000 to rework the shelter roofs and $5,000 to rework roofs on band shells. Other items from that account include $25,000 toward new playground equipment and $35,000 towards the sidewalk at Shelter Five.

Katzer noted new playground equipment is desirable, but can be removed in favor of more pressing items. Katzer also said funds for the sidewalk could be taken from the city’s sidewalk improvement program.

Katzer also raised concerns about maintaining the amount of trees within the city.

“I already got 30 this week being marked (to be taken down),” he said. “We got to do something to keep our forest up.”

Katzer said accounts for tree maintenance may take a big jump going into the next few years.

Mayor Tom Brown said information on cuts from the state is still unclear, and the challenge to budgeting each of the city’s departments will be working around those cuts.

“We have less information from the state this year than in previous years,” he said. “We’re still waiting for the rest of the story.”

Mayor Brown asked Katzer to consider picking the top three to five priorities he has for the next three years, and focus on the budget for those items.

“What’s the most important thing?” Brown asked.

Commissioner Mike Alkire recommended spreading out a little of the available budget to each item.

“Spread it out,” he said. “Have a little bit for trees, a little bit for roofs.”

No definitive action has yet been made regarding the budget.

Fire chief seeks new digital radios

A new mandate requires fire departments to be digitally compliant by 2017.

In order to meet that mandate, McPherson Fire Chief Jeff Deal recommended budgeting of $25,000 toward the purchase of five new radios that can converse outside of McPherson County.

Currently, the department has six that can reach outside the county. Deal said he wanted to increase the availability of emergency services to McPherson by increasing the ability to contact out-of-county services.

“In light of what happened last week in Oklahoma, I need radios,” Deal said. “Currently, our closest out- of-county contact is Lyons, and I have limited communication with them as it is.”

In other business:

• Katzer shared his budget for the McPherson Community Building. His proposed budget includes an increase in the budget for utilities and maintenance, due to bathroom issues and a roof known to leak.

• Deal shared his concern of rising gas prices, and wished to raise his available budget. Brown said prices would likely decrease toward the end of the year, but that an eye would be kept on trends in order to determine the need of the fire department’s fuel account.