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Public mum at Sunnyside city budget hearing

The Sunnyside City Council last night, Thursday, held a public hearing focusing on the 2009 city budget and received no public comment.

The only comment during the hearing came from council members. City Council members Tom Gehlen, Bruce Epps and Paul Garcia praised the work by city staff in getting the proposed $7.9 million budget up and running.

Councilwoman Theresa Hancock said there will need to be more cuts in 2009 and again expressed reservations about a budget that calls for wage increases across the board in a year in which the city has cut nine employees. Other cuts proposed in 2009 include limited parks maintenance and the community center remains shuttered and unfunded by the city.

Councilwoman Carol Stone agreed with Hancock in regards to the pay raises included in 2009.

The pay raises mean that the city will have five employees making at least $95,000 next year, with four of them earning more than City Manager Eric Swansen.

Gehlen also called for quarterly reviews next year to help council track how the city's budget spending is progressing.

In other budget news, council last night also received some revisions to the proposed 2009 budget.

Swansen said there was a 10-key error in calculating the ambulance fund revenue for 2009. Because of the typing error, the ambulance fund in the first budget documents was shown to receive an anticipated $385,160 in revenues, exactly $100,000 more than actual anticipated revenues.

Even so, Swansen says ambulance revenues in 2009 will exceed expenditures by just over $60,000.

Other proposed revisions for the 2009 budget announced last night include additional expenditures of $700 for postage, $2,660 to correct a posting error for cell phones, increasing the amount from $1,800 to $4,460.

The impact of the changes on the proposed ending fund balance for the general fund in 2009 is a reduction of $3,360.

Council is expected to approve the 2009 budget during its Monday, Dec. 8, meeting.

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