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Council Moves Forward with Budget Before the Holidays

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As the year winds down, the Athens City Council focused their efforts at Monday night’s meeting on making sure the city’s expenses are taken care of for 2012 and began laying the groundwork for establishing a budget for 2013.

The meeting began with City Council President Jim Sands calling for an executive session to add another ordinance to the night’s agenda concerning a three -year agreement regarding wages and working conditions for employees in the code office. The wages will increase by two percent for all three years, according to the Human Resources department.

Other procedures included summing up the budget for 2013. Mayor Paul Wiehl addressed the council with his plan for using the city’s total budget of $33.7 million, most going, as usual, to the general fund with additions to some new city projects.

“I added something about getting a police cruiser,” Wiehl said. “We also added writing about the Issue 1 grant for Columbus Road and a small cities grant to the Oxbow Bridge.”

Fourth Ward Rep. Chris Fahl commented on the budget.

“The carryover is from the city doing a good job budgeting and not because the state has gotten funds from the government,” Fahl said. “In spite of the state we have been extraordinarily creative in making a budget.”

Meanwhile, council members decided to move forward with their plans to raise the salaries of future council members. The current salary for the part-time position as a city council elected official is $7,500. With the one percent increase, council members can expect a raise of $75 to $90 annually.

Further administrative needs were met when Representative Christine Knisely addressed the subject of pay increases for non-union city-employed staff. She recommended an increase of 3.5 percent; two thirds of that increase would come from the city’s general fund.

“Non-union employees have not had a significant raise in several years,” Knisely noted.

According to city Human Resources Director Claudia Reagan, most of the updates in the ordinance will provide clarification on positions no longer used such as seasonal workers.

Additional money was spent on interest for the city’s newest fire truck. The last of the payments for the truck will total $800 in interest. The ordinance, originally in its second reading, was put under suspension of the rules, allowing members to vote in favor for it during the meeting.

President Jim Sands announced next week’s meeting to be a special session on Monday Dec. 10 where they will read all of the ordinances, passing ones under their second reading and moving forward with some still in the earlier stages of legislation so as to complete business before the holidays.

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