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Mabton City Council mulls departmental budget requests

MABTON - At their first preliminary budget meeting for the 2007 fiscal year this past Monday evening, Mabton City Council members mulled budget requests from public works, the fire and police departments and administration.

First on the agenda to speak was fire department spokesman Luke Cousins, who filled council in on some necessary budget changes due to changes within Yakima County Fire District #5.

First off, Mabton will have to budget in $10,000 a year for a fire truck that the city is splitting the cost half and half with the county. That needs to be worked into the budget for the next three years, he said.

Secondly, the county will be switching over to a new communications system in the spring that will facilitate more users communicating on a narrower band width. While the county did get a grant to buy the new devices, they will only be giving Mabton a certain portion of them. Of the 15 firefighters, only about eight will get them. Because of this, Cousins asked council to budget in $1,500 a year so that he could purchase three per year.

"That would get us up to the city's half that we're supposed to have," he said.

The county will also be increasing its dispatch fee, but at this time it's unknown if it will be two or four percent, so Cousins asked that they budget in a four percent increase, which adds about $1,000.

Another request made by Cousins was to raise the volunteer firefighter pay from $4.76 per call.

"My proposal is to boost volunteer pay up to $6.00 per call," he said, which would change the budgeted amount for salaries from $4,340 to about $5,000.

Because volunteers have been using their own vehicles to go to Toppenish for necessary training, the chief wants the city to budget in the use of a staff car and gasoline.

Budget requests from public works included a tractor for $39,018.82, which includes all the equipment for the tractor, and a new mower for $13,683.67. Right now, the city uses the school district mower for the cemetery and if it breaks down during use, it's up to the city to fund the cost of repairs.

In order to help beautify the city, public works also requested that $15,000 be budgeted in to pay the city of Grandview to come sweep the streets twice a month for six months.

"We really need to work at getting that," said public works employee Frank Tijerina. "That would really make a difference in our streets."

Councilman Mario Martinez requested that public works report back to council with costs for both new and used street sweepers.

Beautifying the city was a recurring theme with public works. They also asked for $1,000 for a gas welder, so that one of the employees could help construct park benches, add a back to the bench at the fountain and add garbage can containers within the parks, among other things.

They also requested a new trailer to haul items to the cemetery (the current one was constructed out of scrap metal several years ago), a lowering device for the cemetery and a tent for services at the cemetery.

In addition, they asked for a digital camera, which would be kept at city hall for all staff to use.

Administration is asking for money to replace carpet and vinyl in city hall. After discussion, council decided to go ahead and get a bid to replace the carpet with hardwood flooring.

The police department is asking for a tazer system, a networked laser jet printer system, a fax machine and leather gear.

No decisions were made last night, council was just hearing out departmental requests.

It did spark discussion, though, about seeking grant funds for many of the requested items, which the city plans on doing.

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