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Mabton city council approves 2006 budget

MABTON - After weeks of budget meetings and workshops, the Mabton City Council voted to adopt the 2006 budget at Tuesday night's meeting.

The 2006 budget will allow for the city to add a new position on the police force. The new position will be funded by the increase in sales tax.

According to Ildia Jackson, city administrator for Mabton, the city likely won't hire a new police officer until the beginning of the year. When a new officer is hired the candidate will immediately go to the police academy and won't be patrolling the streets of Mabton until April at the earliest.

Officer Mike Britton will stay on as the school resource officer. His salary and benefits will be divided between the school district and the city.

Also, a city employee who has been working part-time in a summer position will be added to the public works department full-time.

"This will bring our public works department up to four people, which should help us out," Jackson said.

The new budget will allow for pay increases for city employees. Employees will receive a 2 percent cost of living increase and the step increases for all positions will be unfrozen. With step increases back in effect, employees will have their salaries increased by another 4 percent.

Jackson added the step increases have been frozen since 2002.

New council members will also be getting more money. Council members will now be getting $40 per meeting instead of $20 and the mayor will receive $60, up from the $30 the position has been receiving.

These pay increases will only be for new positions, council members who retain their current seat will not receive the pay raise.

The council also voted to increase residential and commercial sewer rates by 3 percent. Water rates will also rise by 3 percent and an ascending scale was adopted which will replace the current descending scale. This basically means the more water a resident uses, the more they will pay.

$16,000 was included in the new budget to lease two new police cars. The cars will be purchased locally and come fully stocked. In the past the police department would buy cars and add the equipment at a later time. Police Chief Raul Almeida explained this will save money in the long run. Instead of sending the car some place far away for repairs, if something goes wrong with the car it will be fixed locally.

Other items to be purchased by the city will be a large vacuum. This vacuum will be used to pick up leaves and grass in the park and the cemetery. The $8,000 cost will be taken from the cemetery and parks budgets.

Computer software to update Windows will cost the city $11,000 and be taken out of the water, sewer, cemetery and garbage budgets.

Jackson said not all of the grants the city will receive have come in so some amendments to the budget could happen sometime in early January.

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