Morenci city budget hearing set 2012.05.09

Written by David Green.

An updated website, some new equipment and street and sidewalk work are on the docket for Morenci’s 2012-13 budget.

City officials are working through the final touches of the spending plan before presenting a proposed budget at the May 14 council meeting.

Budget workshops went well this year, said city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder, as season council members worked with some newer members.

“There are some items that are not discretionary such as expenses related to utilities, insurance, licensing,  etc., and from the revenue side, property taxes, state-shared revenue and weight and gas taxes coming in to the street funds,” she said. “But as local governmental planners, voted in by the public, the mayor and council have taken a long, hard look—after many late-night meetings—at discretionary spending where they can and do make choices.”

As of Monday, projected revenue was up some from the current year due to the conservative outlook on state revenue taken for last year’s budget. Revenue came in better than expected, Schroeder said, but now she’s faced with the prospect of a state proposal to eliminate the personal property tax.

The budget includes $5,000 for a new and friendlier website, said Schroeder. A revamped design will make it easier for city employees to update and present information, she said, and it should be easier for residents to use.

The sidewalk upgrade plan moves on to the west side of Page Street for the next fiscal year. Proposed road work includes resurfacing the city’s portion of Weston Road just north of Main Street, resurfacing Whitney Avenue, and seal cracking Main Street west of the stoplight.

DPW spending includes the purchase of a new backhoe for $90,000 with a five-year financing plan. A new dump truck will also be purchased, with the city paying one-half of the cost ($65,000).

Maintenance at the EMS building is planned (the former hospital clinic building) and city hall will be spruced up with exterior painting and new awnings. A new telephone system will be installed in all city buildings at a cost of about $10,000.

Tree cutting is proposed at the cemetery and funds are designated for additional part-time officers at the police department. The police budget also includes money for Chief Larry Weeks to attend an FBI Academy program.

The library’s computers will be added to the city’s maintenance plan at a cost of $1,000.

The fire department plans to upgrade radios to comply with FCC narrowband requirements and update licenses for a total cost of about $10,000.

Water tower maintenance is expected to cost $40,000 and casing vents on water wells will cost $3,200. 

On the revenue side, the city might attempt to sell some property at the former Morenci Area Hospital for building lots.

Fire protection contacts with three townships increased by 2.9 percent to match the Consumer Price Index.

Two police officers began paying 20 percent of health care insurance costs in January in accord with new state law. Five other employees will join in in July when their current contracts expire. The change won’t affect DPW workers until April 2014.

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