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Mabton mulls hiring two cops in 2010

MABTON - Though still crunching the numbers for 2009, the Mabton City Council last night, Tuesday, opened its first public hearing on a preliminary 2010 budget.

A key proposed addition to the 2010 budget is, at council request, hiring two new police officers and ramping up a reserve officer to nearly full-time status.

Interim City Treasurer Ret Stewart cautioned against the move. While in favor of having police officers, she says the rapid build-up in officers will be difficult to afford.

"Take seriously adding that many officers," said Stewart, noting it doesn't appear the city has enough funds.

Initial figures show the city considering a 2010 general fund budget - which covers day-to-day operations - pegged at $667,875 in revenues and $651,929 in expenses. According to those figures, that would leave just under $16,000 in the 2010 ending fund balance.

Besides the general fund, the other large budget for Mabton is its water and sewer fund. The city's preliminary 2010 budget calls for a $180,000 ending fund balance in water and sewer, based on $627,000 in revenues and $447,000 in expenses.

"You're getting ready for a wastewater upgrade and you will need money for that," said Stewart.

Earlier in the meeting, Mayor Velva Herrera informed council of some financial assistance the city may receive to help fund the wastewater improvements.

Not only is Mabton dealing with a budget for 2010, it is doing so without knowing where the city stands related to 2009. The city only recently completed figures for 2008.

To that end, City Attorney Phil Lamb reminded council that in conjunction with passing a 2010 budget, it will need to pass a "massive budget amendment" to close out 2009.

There were three members from the general public at the hearing. Of those only Daniel Jun, a candidate for mayor, spoke up in wanting to see more of a breakdown for the city's water and sewer utility revenues.

The Mabton City Council will hold a second budget hearing on Friday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m.

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