Salem City Council Makes No Changes In Proposed Budget
City Manager Bill Gruen says the budget includes $927,000 in new spending, but there are some areas where expenses have also been cut. He reports the general fund and overall budget are both balanced. He describes the city's financial condition as stable and good compared to many cities.
"I was Very pleased with the budgets I was presented by the department heads. They were very realistic. It made this process fairly easy to put it all together," said Gruen.
Gruen says he feels the city is also in good shape going forward. "Threats I think they are external. If the state decides they want to come in and take some of the share of revenues the municipalities otherwise get or if something bad happens nationally, but I'm also optimistic the economy is going to turn around. I think communities that are prepared with Economic Development Directors and if we're organized I think the communities have the best chance of experiencing the economic improvement that could happen," said Gruen.
Gruen says the city has budgeted for a full-time economic development director who will begin work May 7th. He notes the economic development budget is down $13,000 as a result of no longer renting space away from city hall, cutting the administrative assistant position to half time, and not going to the big retail show in Las Vegas this year.
Gruen has put $80,000 in the budget for animal control. He's not ready to announce his plans yet, but says the city has to address the problem. Gruen notes a recent occurrence where the police department had to make sure a dog that appeared vicious was confined so mail delivery could continue on one street. He notes another case were an 'adoptable dog' was kept by the city employee handling wild animals because there was no place to take the dog. Gruen promises the animal control plan will provide a central location for people to check if their pets are missing.
Gruen says the new squad cars and in-car computers will be paid for through lease purchase agreements and will allow the department to get rid of dangerous cars and outdated computers. $35,000 is set aside for the roof over the rock storage in the street department. The street department will also receive a new truck. $20,000 is budgeted to replace the five year old computers at city hall. The gas department has $210,000 budgeted to replace gas lines on Mitchell, Donoho, Wham, Cope and Prairieview Drives. $3,500 has been set aside to repair the back porch of the William Jennings Bryan Birthplace museum. A soft spot has developed in the wood. $130,000 is included to pay expected higher health, unemployment and risk management insurance. The emergency services and disaster agency is not expecting to get a grant to continue the CERT training program.
Gruen reports four night open swims will be scheduled this summer to address complaints from those who are not happy with the daily general swim now ending at six instead of seven pm.
The council will be asked to approve the $18.4-million dollar budget at its meeting next Monday night for the fiscal year that begins May first.
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