Budget Vote Nearing

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A finalized version of the Meridian city budget is nearly ready for a vote.

City Council president Bobby Smith said leaders have found money to hire additional personnel for several departments during the year ahead.

"Five policeman, two of which would go to Bonita. Five public works employees. They say they're getting a brand new bush hog and said they didn't have any employees to run it," said Smith. "So we're concerned about the growth and overhang in the streets, you know, and stuff that needs repair."

The extra money came from a change in policy concerning raises.

"We took away the 2.5 percent raise overall and agreed to give everyone $750 across the board so that will save us quite an amount of money," the council president said.

But there still is not enough money to establish a fund for paving the city's streets without a bond issue, Smith said.

"Every year some of us have discussed putting up $200,000, $300,000, $400,000 for paving. This year, to keep it level, we could not do it this year," Smith said. "But we really want to do that. All of us want to do that. Hopefully, it's going to be a real prosperous year and maybe next year we can start that."

There is a proposed 10 percent increase in water and sewer rates, but that will be discussed at a public meeting scheduled for Monday, Aug. 16 6:00 p.m. in the council chamber at the police station.

Other than that possible sticking point, Smith said there were few problems in preparing the budget.

"To me, it was one of the easiest budgets I've ever witnessed. We had a great session. We worked three days straight and it was very, very easy to do," said Smith.

Smith said they wanted to put a laptop computer in every police car but the money is not available.