Berryville budget includes 3 percent pay raise for city workers

Friday, December 7, 2012

BERRYVILLE -- The proposed 2013 Berryville budget includes roughly $300,000 of street improvements financed by the 0.5 percent dedicated sales tax approved by voters in November, along with a 3 percent raise for municipal employees.

The $8.5 million budget is expected to be approved at the next City Council meeting. Council members were presented with the 75-page document Tuesday night. However, there was very little discussion.

Mayor Tim McKinney pointed out that his $4,000 pay raise -- given final approval by council Tuesday -- would be nearly offset by a $3,300 reduction of his travel allowance.

Overall, the budget proposed anticipates revenue increases of $93,500. Budgets in nearly every city department would increase -- with the departments of parks, cemetery, and water being notable exceptions.

The departments of streets, wastewater, and police would see their budgets grow the most under the proposal. The Wastewater Department budget would increase $423,000 -- or 4.19 percent. Most of this money would go toward increased chemical and sludge removal costs -- associated with new, stricter phosphorus limits passed earlier this year.

The budget for chemicals would more than triple, from $50,000 to $165,000. Waste disposal costs would also increase, from $2,000 to $36,000.

An additional $50,000 would be set aside for a study of the city's wastewater system. The Berryville City Council approved that study Tuesday night, in the hope that it would identify ways to reduce costs at the treatment plant. McKinney has said he hopes the study will lead to a long-term management contract for the plant.

Rounding out the budget picture for the wastewater department, capital outlay costs would increase by $194,000 in 2013. Most of this money would go to rehabilitation of the sewer collection system and the purchase of a used dump truck.

After the wastewater department, streets would be the next largest beneficiary of this year's budget increases, receiving $294,400 -- or 5.28 percent -- more than last year.

These increases are made possible by the 0.5 percent dedicated sales tax passed by Arkansas voters in November. In its first year, city officials anticipate the tax will contribute some $300,000 to city coffers. Thanks to this infusion, the city will be able to spend $55,000 more on street repairs and maintenance this year. The budget for overlays, curbs, and sidewalks would also increase by $250,000.

Another $42,000 -- not from the tax -- would be spent on a new pickup truck and leaf vacuum.

The city department with the third largest proposed increase is the Berryville Police Department, which would see its budget increase by $107,100 -- or 13.5 percent -- in 2013.

About half of this increase would go toward personnel -- where, in addition to the 3 percent raise, two reserve officers would be hired on part-time. Another $55,000 has been slated for a computer operating system upgrade and a new patrol car.

In other business Tuesday night, council members:

* Gave final approval to an ordinance doubling the compensation for members of the Berryville Planning Commission from $10 per meeting to $20 per meeting. McKinney pointed out last month that the change would not change commissioners' yearly compensation, because they meet only half as often as they did before.

* Gave final approval to an ordinance changing the distribution of revenue from the 1 percent local option sales tax to direct savings from a recent bond refinancing into the city general fund.

City Council will next meet at 6 p.m. on Dec. 18 at Berryville City Hall, located at 305 E. Madison St. For more information, call 870-423-4414.

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