City Council Approves 2013 Budget
COLUMBIA- The Fiscal Year 2013 budget was approved unanimously Monday night by Columbia City Council. The 526 page document is the 2nd of a 3 year plan to bring the city up from the nation's recession.
City Council spent three months discussing the budget. The public came out to express their opinions and concerns before the final vote was cast. Many people are disappointed in the increase of service fees including building inspection fees and rental permit fees. Some just wanted the council to keep the promises they are making.
One woman wanted the council to consider the amount of pay the budget has set aside for trash collectors. She said that $11 an hour is not enough money to pay these workers for the services they provide and the budget should include an increase in their pay.
City Manager, Mike Matthes, and 3rd Ward Representative, Gary Kespohl, both agreed that the budget higlighted three main points:
- Shrinking the deficit from $2.3 million to $1.3 million
- Hiring more police and firefighters
- Providing future employers with different pension plans in hopes to provide raises for employees in Columbia
The purpose of the budget is to close the gap between General Fund revenues and expenses in FY 2013. The budget contains no tax increase but the public can expect to see an increase in service fees such as:
- Solid waste services
- Tattoo and food services inspections
- Utility connections
- Parking permits
The budget will also plan to increase the average residential utility rate by $5.82 per month. The budget is also increasing building permit fees, plan review fees, and rental inspections. Building permit fees and plan review fees have not increased since 1996 and rental inspections fees have not increased since 2001.
There will also be changes in park and recreation fees that are tailored to cutomer needs such as discounts too encourage more use of Reichmann Pavillion during the slow seasons, senior golf discounts, and special event charges that reflect the level of facility resources used.
The budget also calls for a new 9-1-1 dispatch center with funding to increase staffing.
The new budget will go into effect in October and last until September 2013.
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