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Milton OKs budget, rate increases

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

The Trimble Banner

With Milton Mayor Donnie Oakley still in the hospital recovering from injuries received in a car accident last month, Commissioner Steve Brierly lead Thursday’s meeting to give final approval to the city’s 2009-10 budget.

There were no changes to the document, in which city Clerk Shannon Hoskins projects $164,440 in revenue for the general fund and expenditures at $158,850.

Also approved on its second reading was an ordinance to increase the city’s water and sewer fees.

Commissioners Gerald Owens and Jerry Harmon took a long pause before making a motion and seconding the motion to OK the increase, which adds $3 to the base fee for water service and $1 to the base fee for sewer.

As of July 1, customers will pay $16.75 for the first 1,500 gallons of water used each month; sewer customers will pay $15.25 for the first 2,000 gallons of water discharged into the sewer system.

The increase aims to offset an anticipated $36,000 shortfall in revenue the city receives from its insurance premium tax.

“We really don’t have a choice, do we,” Owens said before making the motion to approve the measure.

“Not if we want to stay within our current budget,” replied Hoskins.

The motion was unamimous, with all three commissioners present voting in favor. Along with Oakley, Commisser Denny Jackson also was absent.

In other business, the commission also voted to include two additional city employees under the 1.5 percent pay increase for the coming year.

Previously, the city gave per-hour raises, usually adding 25 cents. However, such raises meant that those with lower salaries actually were getting larger raises than long-term employees who earn higher salaries. Hoskins said she doesn’t believe the increase will alter next year’s budget; if it does, the move will require a budget amendment.

Commissioners are considering buying a welder for the sewer plant. Currently, employees are using a welder owned by Owens.

Harmon asked that an estimate be brought before the next commission meeting on a variety of welders to determine cost before a decision is made.

Before adjourning the meeting, Brierly told commissioners that work may be needed on the walking path at the city park. Several large trees have fallen into the creek there, and could cause erosion that might damage the paved path.

He also asked the commission to consider replacing the water/sewer department’s service truck. The truck has a bad transmission and “brake issues” caused, he believes, by using it to haul the city’s backhoe. The gasoline-powered truck, a 2000 model, was not meant for such heavy-duty tasks, he said.

“I hate to see us put money into that vehicle, because we’ll have to do it again,” he said.