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Mabton City Council discuss revenues, revisit expenditures

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Mabton Councilwoman Oping Hutson (L) refuses to budge her position as Mabton Councilman Mario Martinez tries to convince her extra help at city hall will help the city move in the direction council wants.

MABTON - The Mabton City Council met this past Tuesday to conduct business (which consisted of paying bills) and study the anticipated revenues from the 2011 preliminary budget. Council also found time to revisit a planned expenditure for office help in the police department and at city hall.

The city is expecting to take in $328,915 in taxes next year, with the bulk of that money ($127,515) coming from property taxes. The city also expects $62,000 in local retail sales taxes.

Other revenue sources for the city's general fund, including police fines and money earned from renting out the community center bring the actual revenues to $480,909. Add on non-revenues ($155,540) and other financing resources and the total revenues for the general fund are expected to be $672,941.

The city's cemetery fund is expected to generate $12,790 for the city, but Mabton City Clerk/Treasurer Ret Stewart warned the council the revenues weren't enough to keep pace with the work done out at the cemetery.

Stewart told the council the city has had nine funerals this year and the revenue can't support city workers spending three to four days a week there during the spring, summer and fall.

"We're crippling ourselves," she said. "We have to cut back or risk losing it totally."

The street fund is anticipated to bring in $46,150 to city coffers. The water and sewer fund is expected to bring in $707,240 in 2011. This number could change after the numbers are tweaked for a final time. At Tuesday's meeting the council decided to lower expectations on sewer sales from $285,000 to $250,000.

Adding up all of Mabton's funds, the city is projecting $1,669,309 in revenues for 2011.

When the discussion concerning revenues ended Mabton Councilwoman Oping Hutson revisited a revenue discussion concerning an accounting clerk Mabton Mayor Angel Reyna wants to hire in 2011.

Reyna envisions this clerk working part time in the police department and part time at city hall. Hutson, who last week had been undecided about whether to go along with the idea, aligned herself with Council members Sophia Sotelo and Vera Zavala, who favor allowing only the part time position in the police department.

Sotelo believes the city has raised taxes too much in Mabton and in turn is spending too much money. Zavala said she doesn't feel the time is right or necessary to hire any additional help at city hall. Hutson said no help is needed at city hall, but there could arise a need in the future.

All three of them are on board with the extra help the mayor says is needed at the police department.

Reyna's position is that the city needs the help now if it is to continue in the directions of the vision council has for the city. The vision includes receiving grants and loans to help upgrade the water treatment plant and to improve roads and add infrastructure in the city.

Councilman Mario Martinez told the council that people from agencies have told him they want to help the city of Mabton but first must be assured the city has the people to run and track these grants and loans. He advocated for the new hire.

The mayor also pointed out that if they only hired a person part-time they would still generate enough hours to receive benefits. Having that person work full-time would be more cost effective in the long run.

The conversation ended with the mayor asking the council to leave funding in place for the position but if the time came to hire, he would ask permission from the council first.

Sotelo said no, stating she doesn't want the money to be included in the budget. The rest of the council; Martinez, Hutson, Zavala and Mark Gourneau, all agreed with the mayor.

A planned budget workshop for Tuesday, Nov. 16, has been canceled and the Mabton City Council will adopt the 2011 preliminary budget at its Tuesday, Nov. 23 meeting.

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