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Union vote will affect proposed budget

The results of Monday's Civil Service Employees Union vote on contract concessions will determine the bottom line for an updated budget proposal that Mayor David Carucci hopes to present to anxious members of the Common Council Tuesday.

The Council refused to send the $14.5 million spending package -- and its estimated 37.8 percent tax rate hike -- out of committee last month. Members expressed fears of a late budget in the Tuesday night City Operations Committee meeting, and at least one accused Carucci of stalling his preparations.

He told the committee the proposal is the second round of offers negotiated with the unions, bound by contracts that call for a 3.5 percent pay hike in the coming year.

Approval of the renegotiated contract would modify the benefits programs already in place for the fire, police and CSEA bargaining units.

Members are entitled to review the offer for a 15-day period before the rank and file vote, and that is set for noon to 1 p.m. Monday. The schedule means City Auditor Steve Pachla can take Monday afternoon and part of Tuesday to revise the budget draft for its Tuesday night presentation to the Common Council.

"We are all together on what is coming. We just need approval from the CSEA," said Pachla,hinting that further reductions have been worked into the plan leading to the vote that has lowered the anticipated tax rate for the city -- which hasn't done a revaluation in decades -- from $149.23 per $1,000 of assessed value to about $142.

Carucci asked the Council to support an increase in the water and sewer rates and pointed to the unhappiness expressed by 37 people who attended a public hearing held Friday. He added that without water and sewer rate increases, the city will run out of cash in January, and bonding measures to borrow money for cash flow will be necessary next January.

"I am asking you to tell me what you will say yes to in a dollar amount or a percentage," he said, noting he is willing to adjust spending with their help. He added that four members of the Council have replied to his request for a desirable number for the 2006-07 budget's tax increase.

Ward 3 Alderman Ray Wangelin replied, "Very small," and Ward 1 Alderman Glenn VanDixon said, "You haven't received anything from me because it is your budget."

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