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Budget to increase, keep same tax rate

City officials will meet Tuesday to adopt a tentative budget for the coming fiscal year that holds the line on taxes yet provides 3.6 percent pay increases for employees.

Mayor Jeffrey Pond said he and Council members completed a budget review Wednesday and "were unanimous that we should hold the line on any tax increase."

"As we ended last year well financially, we agreed to do this. We may be one of a few local governments to be able to do this."

The city currently has a $2.1 million surplus.

Pond said he was amazed that since taking office four years ago, the city budget has grown to nearly $7 million from $4 million.

The tax rate will remain at $52.41 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, even though the budget would increase by $300,000, to $7.09 million.

The spending plan calls for a tax levy of $1.01 million, down slightly from $1.03 million, the result of a projected increase in revenues.

The mayor and five aldermen will not receive raises but other employees will get 3.6 percent increase, with most covered by union contracts.

Electric, water and sewer charges would not increase.

Pond said higher fuel costs had the biggest impact on the budget.

Officials set a contingency fund of $50,000 for next year.

Also, $200,000 was taken from surplus to balance the budget but will be restored from casino revenues.

After adopting the tentative spending plan Tuesday, the Council will hold a special meeting and public hearing at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 to take comments on the budget.

The Council is expected to vote to adopt the budget at that time. The Tuesday meeting will get under way at 7 p.m.

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