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Mabton Council begins 2005 budget planning

MABTON - With city water improvement funding applications ready for the mail, the Mabton City Council Tuesday evening turned its attention to setting public hearings for the coming budget year.

The Council will be looking at salary increases for staff, as well as reviewing the police department dispatch contract at the first of its planning sessions, set for Nov. 23.

According to City Administrator Ildia Jackson, the city staff has not received a significant salary increase since 2002. Last year, the staff received a 2 percent increase, but Jackson is hoping the Council will be able to approve a larger increase.

"We are hoping we will be able to ink out a 5 percent increase for staff in the 2005 budget," she told the Council.

Jackson said the staff benefit costs are not expected to change.

While budget projections for the coming year are still a little hazy, Jackson told the Council with the recent annexation of the Northwest Horticulture property and the old high school property the city's tax revenue base will be greatly improved.

"We should be able to breathe a little easier in 2005," she said.

The 60-acre annexation is expected to increase the city coffers by as much as $100,000 in the coming year.

Last year, the Council approved a "no-frills" $2.7 million operating budget. Jackson said the coming year's budget will be slightly larger due to the infusion of revenues expected due to the annexation and the recent modest bump in property tax rates.

Last week the Council approved a 1 percent increase in property taxes which is a $634 increase over last year. The city will receive a little more than $81,000 in property tax revenues in 2005 as a result of the increase..

Jackson said at present it doesn't appear that there will be a any changes in the city's water and sewer rates.

"I think we'll be able to operate in 2005 without a hike in the rates. But we may have to take a look at readjusting the water use scale to better reflect the cost of actual water use," she told the Council.

The Mabton Council will also be examining its police dispatch contract with the City of Sunnyside, which provides police and fire call dispatches to the Mabton community of 2,701 people.

Over the next several weeks the Mabton Council will meet each Tuesday at 7 p.m. in council chambers to iron out the details of its 2005 budget, which it expects to adopt in early December.

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