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2012 budget discussions continue in Grandview

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Grandview Fire Chief Pat Mason details the fire department's proposed 2012 budget for city council members.

GRANDVIEW - Three department heads last night detailed for the Grandview City Council their proposed 2012 budgets.

Grandview Fire Chief Pat Mason, City Clerk Anita Palacios and City Administrator Cus Arteaga, who still serves as public works director, said the 2012 drafts are all is similar to the 2011 budgets for the respective departments.

As a result, said Arteaga, the department heads crunched figures to come up with a balanced, conservative 2012 budget.

Mason said there aren't many proposed changes in the fire department's fire administration budget, with the exception of adding a week of salary for vacation cash-out.

The fire department budget accounts for $371,550 of the city's $5 million budget, or 7 percent.

Mason said many of the changes accounted for in the overall fire budget are salaries, health care costs and other benefits.

He reduced the budget for leases in the administrative services portion of the department's budget, but increased the EMS budget to account for additional volunteers, which also includes uniforms for the volunteers.

"Ninety-five percent of what we do is EMS (emergency medical services)," said Mason, explaining he is working on a plan to implement a program specifically for volunteer emergency medical technicians. He said the goal is to have six volunteers serving in that capacity.

The proposed 2012 budget for EMS services uniforms was increased by approximately $7,000 and compensation was increased by approximately $13,000.

To make up for the increases, Mason adjusted the budget for travel expenses, operating rentals and leases, and miscellaneous training.

Mayor Norm Childress said, "I hope you can live with it (the proposed budget)."

Mason assured the council the fire department has operated on a tight budget and is capable of continuing to do so.

Palacios detailed the items in the city's budget that she oversees, including court services and legal fees.

She said the proposed court services budget for 2012 was increased by an estimated $21,000 because court services are provided by Yakima County. The county raised costs.

In addition, attorneys providing indigent defense counsel requested an increase from $75 per case to $100 per case for services provided.

"That is consistent with fees charged by other indigent defense attorneys," said Palacios.

Medical and insurance premiums and retirement rates have gone up. As a result, she said the proposed budget for clerk services is up by approximately $1,500.

The budget for risk management services is the budget for insurance costs for personnel and facilities. That budget, too, has been increased for 2012 due to a rise in premiums and the addition of liability insurance for the transportation benefit district. The increase from 2011 is approximately $10,000.

The proposed legal services budget for the city attorney was also increased, according to Palacios.

Last year was the first year Grandview used the services provided by an outside attorney rather than an in-house attorney.

Palacios said the budget was underestimated because it was unknown what "other" costs would be. Those costs are associated with services not included in the base contract agreement, such as litigation matters.

Because the city has a better idea of the cost for those services, Palacios said she added nearly $6,000 to the proposed legal services budget.

When asked the difference in costs for utilizing the services of the outside attorney versus the previous in-house attorney, Palacios told the Grandview council members, "It's about even with what the city paid Jack (Maxwell)."

Arteaga next spoke to the council about the proposed public works budget, which encompasses streets, water, sewer, code enforcement, parks maintenance and several other budgets.

"We met the mayor's goal of not reducing programs or staffing," he said.

The city of Grandview has partnered with Grandview's EDGE (Enhancing Development of Grandview's Economy) and the city's proposed economic development budget was increased by approximately $9,000 to account for funds contributed to the partnership.

Arteaga said the city's proposed general management budget has been decreased by just under $6,700, and the graffiti fund has also been reduced by approximately $3,000.

The graffiti fund, it was established, receives a portion of its revenues from restitution.

"We have also been able to reduce costs of graffiti removal," said Arteaga, stating the city receives free paint through a recycling program operated by Yakima Waste Systems.

The 2012 code enforcement budget, said Arteaga, was increased by $740 due to an adjustment in salaries and benefits.

The proposed budget for streets is $16,000 more than in 2011. That is due in part to salary adjustments and a project slated for the 300 block of North Birch Street.

That project also accounts for $212,500 included in the city's water budget. The proposed water budget, however, is only $23,800 higher than 2011.

The city's proposed solid waste (garbage) budget is also higher. Arteaga said properties that have been annexed will now be served by the city's garbage disposal services, however the expenditures will be offset by an increase in revenues from those properties.

Childress said, "There's not a lot of room for discussion...although we covered a lot of ground, the department heads did their best to stay within the same figures as 2011. They've done a good job."

Arteaga said it is a sense of community spirit that makes it possible. "We are all from Grandview...this is our home. We don't have a lot of choices, but we still look at ways to provide the same level of service while finding room for the small projects."

A public hearing on the proposed 2012 budget is set for next Tuesday, Nov. 22. The Grandview City Council is scheduled to consider its adoption at the Tuesday, Dec. 13, meeting.

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