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Mabton $190,000 budget deficit down to an estimated $71,000

MABTON - The Mabton City Council received an early Christmas present at last night's meeting when it was learned the 2009 budget deficit had shrunk from an estimated $190,000 to just over $71,000.

It was unclear how the large discrepancy occurred but Mabton City Councilwoman Oping Hutson said she thought it was due to the council not having the correct beginning and ending fund balances. What is clear is the city did overspend by an estimated $108,000 this year and Councilman Mario Martinez said that has to stop.

How the city can stop the bleeding is also unclear but when a citizen asked Martinez if the council is looking at cutting the police department, he told her nothing was off the table.

All of the city's funds have positive balances except for the city's current expense and cemetery funds. The current expense fund now has an estimated projected ending balance of negative $30,545 but that will change when nearly $109,000 in utility taxes is transferred to the fund. Council was unclear whether they could then add money to its cemetery fund to get it out of the red.

The city will have a public hearing next Tuesday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m. to hear comment about the 2009 budget. After the hearing the council will pass whatever budget is in place at the time and then worry about making any amendments needed when the council meets again in January.

Also at last night's meeting the council passed several resolutions and ordinances dealing mostly with housekeeping.

For instance, the council authorized the mayor to make payments to the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments, the Association of Washington Cities and the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management. Also authorized were agreements with Vision Municipal Solutions for technical support services, the Yakima County Sheriff's Department for communication services and the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments for technical assistance.

The council also approved an ordinance to adjust 2009 solid waste disposal rates and authorized the mayor to sign an order for an irrigation study.

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