In talks on finalizing the city's budget for next year, on Friday Meridian City Council members agreed to provide funding to hire three additional police officers and three additional employees for the Public Works Department. This, all at a cost of roughly $180,000, an expense which council members say is well worth it!
"What I am concerned about is the police officers for Bonita Lakes," says Ward 3 Councilwoman Beverly Henson. "We can't just stick our head in the sand about that. This is a critical, critical area."
Of the three additional officers, two are expected to be assigned to Bonita Lakes Park. Recently there were allegations of lewd behavior taking place in the park. The officers are expected to patrol the area during daylight hours because the park closes at night.
Meanwhile, unlike the percentage raises city workers have received in the past, in Friday's meeting council members also reached a tentative agreement to provide an across the board, one-time $750 bonus for ALL city workers. However, this decision was not made without some debate.
"The person who's making the high dollar in office, he doesn't get as much money naturally as part of this," says Council President Bobby Smith. "He does a good job, but that guy who, as Mr. Palmer says, is in the snow and raid during all times of the night, he doesn't get that $750 if we pass a 2 ½ percent raise. He may just get $300 or $400. I think this plan is fair for everybody to get the same thing."
Something else the council examined was providing a $20,000 loan to officials at Lakeview Golf Course for upgrades at the facility. Meanwhile, yet another matter that has generated quite a bit of debate about the budget is the likely 10 percent increase in city water rates.
If all goes well, council members say the city's final budget could be approved as early as at its next regularly scheduled meeting which is September 7.