By SEAN RICE
It appears a big price tag will keep Celina from purchasing
a small strip of land for a new driveway to Pullman Bay Park.
City administration looked into the possibility of buying the
grassy area between Pullman Bay Restaurant and Pullman Bay Park
from a local estate. Three lots near the park soon may come
up for sale, local realtor Randy Evers told city officials.
Celina Safety-Service Director Mike Sovinski reported the family
controlling the Lincoln Garman estate do not want to split the
lots, and the entire one-acre area would cost nearly $200,000.
The cost is “beyond what we see reasonable for what our
needs are,” Sovinski told council members meeting Monday.
Council members said yes to a land donation from The Daily Standard
Publisher Frank Snyder on Monday, passing legislation officially
accepting the 15.6 wooded acres adjacent to Westview Park.
City officials had reservations about accepting the donation,
because the deed states the land is to remain in its natural
state, as a tree preserve.
After investigating the deed history, the city law director
reported the deed restrictions may not be enforceable because
of a wording error. Also, city leaders learned that Snyder agrees
with a plan hatched by Parks Director Jeff Fortkamp to use the
land as a nature preserve, with walking trails and an education
“He (Snyder) does not feel the existing restrictions conflict
with the plans laid out by Mr. Fortkamp,” acting Law Director
Angela Nickell said.
Council member Collin Bryan said the council’s reservations,
“were never intended to insult the donor.”
The council moved the 2004 annual appropriations ordinance to
a final reading to be held at the March meeting, without discussion
or the support of council member Angie King.
“I know everybody knows where the city is as far as stagnant
revenue and increasing expenses,” King said. “It’s
time to quit talking and start having some long-range planning.”
King said the city has been dependent on the state-supplied
kilowatt-hour tax since its inception in 2001. Celina receives
nearly $500,000 from the tax, which largely replaced the gross
receipts tax. State law requires the tax be paid from the city’s
electric fund to the city’s general fund.
She said she cannot support a budget that relies so heavily
on the tax.
Celina Auditor Pat Smith reported Celina’s general fund
revenue increased from $4.41 million in 2001 to $4.59 million
in 2002 to $5.06 million in 2003. Expenses for those years followed,
from $4.41 million in 2001 to $4.58 million in 2002 to $5.03
In 2001, $279,000 was received from the kilowatt-hour tax. In
2002 and 2003, nearly $500,000 was received each year. Smith
also told The Daily Standard inheritance tax revenue spiked
last year, increasing from $132,000 in 2001 to $556,000. The
inheritance tax increases when wealthy residents die.
Smith said the annual budget would have been short $1 million
in 2003 if those sources dried up.
“We’re delusional to think this is going to resolve
itself,” King quipped, prompting council President Bill
Sell to ask if she supports an income tax increase.
“I think we need to give that opportunity to the voters
of Celina,” she said.
Her colleagues agreed.
“I was on this band wagon before you got on,” Bryan
“The City of Celina has never went to the voters for a
tax increase. I’m not saying we’re not close,”
member Denny Smith said.
In another matter of business, council members passed an emergency
ordinance allowing Sovinski to solicit bids for water, wastewater
and electric department equipment that is included in the budget.
A section that would have allowed Sovinski to renew vehicle
leases used by himself and Community Development Director Sue
Canary was removed by council members. King initially made a
motion to remove one vehicle, which would cause Sovinski and
Canary to split a vehicle, but it was not seconded.
Members agreed to remove both lease renewals from the ordinance,
to allow time to discuss options cheaper than the current approximately
$350 per month, per vehicle.