(Neb)-Chadron Budget Generates Much Discussion
CHADRON - The Chadron City Council last night held the first reading of the ordinance adopting the budget for the fiscal year starting October 1st, and the discussion suggested there's a lot more debate ahead.
City Manager Greg Yanker told the council the $15.5-million dollar package with a $4.3-million dollar general fund had only a few minor changes on the revenue side from the initial rough version he gave them last month, a version that required cutting another $625,000.
Yanker's update last night sharply reduced the gap, but not enough to fully meet proposed spending without shifting funds. That greatly troubled councilman Mark Werner.
Werner was concerned about funding a badly needed $125,000 street-clearing snowblower in one year and a projected $200,000 increase in health insurance costs.
Yanker and finance officer Jeanette Puzzo tried explain that the total was a worst-case scenario based on a 15% premium hike and all new hires taking full-family coverage, which costs more. Puzzo said final numbers aren't available yet, but might be in about 3 weeks.
The proposed budget includes a 60-cent pay raise for full-time city workers, a 30-cent hike for part-timers, and up to a 1% increase based on longevity for those at the top of the pay scale. The employees association negotiators have tentatively approved the plan and sent it to a full membership vote.
In closing council remarks, Mayor Miles Bannan admitted the council members have their work cut out for them and expressed the hope civility would reign during discussions.
Vice-Mayor Keith Crofutt took a similar slant and urged Chadron residents to join the council in looking for ways to establish long-term budget stability.
The council last night did push back its next meeting from 2 weeks to 3 to the 26th so that they could have the official property valuation figures from the county. They'd already delayed their first Sept meeting a week for Labor Day, so the new changes restores the usual 2-week schedule.
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