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Mabton council works on police, parks budgets

MABTON - The Mabton City Council met Tuesday night to work on the 2007 city budget.

The council decided to freeze all step increases for public employees' salaries but will allow for a 2 percent increase for cost of living.

Mabton's Police Chief, Robert Perales, asked the council to reconsider freezing the step raises in his department.

"It would only take $3,500 to meet the step increases for the department," he told the council.

Perales is also asking for a taser less lethal system ($3,600), a networked laserjet printer ($1,000), a fax machine for the police department ($250) and updated police leather gear for his officers ($2,000).

Perales also told the council they need to find out how much of the three-tenths sales tax money the city receives for the police department will be. He said that money must be used and accounted for or it will need to be turned back over to the state.

The projected police budget is $240,638. Perales said it must be higher than last year's by at least the amount the city receives from the three-tenths sales tax money.

The council agreed to set aside $6,000 for new playground equipment for the parks in Mabton. Councilman Mario Martinez noted there were not any toddler swings at the park. Board member Shelly Mireles added new park equipment would make the community look better.

Martinez asked about freeing up some money in the budget by eliminating the position of city administrator.

"If we get rid of this position we will have money to spread around," he said.

Mayor Velva Herrera said the city's lawyers are telling her the city must keep the position open until a special audit called by the council is complete. The city's current city administrator, Ildia Jackson, is on paid leave until the findings of the special audit are released.

The mayor said the position must be kept open to avoid any possible lawsuits.

Also at last night's budget workshop, the public works department took out from the budget two 2007 Ford trucks they were asking for.

The Mabton City Council will hold another budget workshop Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. The regularly scheduled council meeting will commence at 7 p.m.

A public hearing for the 2007 budget will be held Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 6 p.m. and a meeting to adopt the budget will be held Thursday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m.

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