Scott City budget focuses on cleanup, police, raises

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Scott City Council is expected to vote at its Monday meeting on the city's 2005-2006 budget -- a budget that, despite one large special expense, city officials call healthy.

City administrator Ron Eskew said the proposed budget contains about $2.8 million in revenue and $2.6 million in expenses, allowing the city to continue its attempts to build a year's worth of reserve funds by adding $200,000.

One of the unusual features on the proposal is a one-time expense of about $131,000 to clean up the Old Illmo lagoon, a process mandated by the state Department of Natural Resources.

The lagoon formerly served as a sewage lagoon for Illmo before it was taken off-line in 1999, but since has been converted into a storm water retention area. Now the nitrate-rich 14 inches of sludge at the lagoon's bottom must be removed per state regulations and taken to an approved location for use as fertilizer.

Much of the extra cost is being offset by increased revenue from both property and sales taxes, Eskew said.

Another added expense is Tasers for the police department. The city is hoping to purchase 10 of the electric stun guns at a cost of $10,000 for police. By using Tasers, the city hopes to minimize police injuries when subduing suspects who resist, Eskew said. Each year, two or three claims are made against the police department due to such injuries, he said.

Other added expenses for the police department include $25,000 for a full-time nuisance officer and increased raises of 6 percent to 12 percent for police, which will come at a cost of about $50,000.

Other city personnel will receive raises on average of 6 percent to 7 percent based on merit, the largest raise in recent memory.

Another added cost to the budget will be paying for Geographic Information Systems mapping, which will map all aspects of city geography and infrastructure. Many cities and counties are implementing GIS, and the total cost to Scott City should be around $42,000.

Like with many private and public budgets, Scott City's largest area of expense is personnel costs, running at about 35 percent of the budget every year.

Mayor Tim Porch said he's happy with the budget proposal, since it allows the city to pay for needed expenses while continuing to build up reserves. Porch wants Scott City to have a year's worth of reserve funds for emergencies. Scott City already accumulated about six or seven months worth of reserve funds.

City council members will be reviewing the budget over the weekend ahead of Monday's vote.

335-6611, extension 182

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