The Meridian City Council is taking the final steps in passing the city's budget for the next fiscal year, and members say they're trying to do so without a tax increase. The mayor has proposed a balanced budget without any increase, but the Council will meet Thursday to determine whether any changes are necessary.
"Having a new CAO and a new mayor, I'm kind of proud of the budget that's been brought to us," Ward 5 Councilman Randy Hammon says. "And of course, everyone knows it was brought without a tax increase."
Last year, the Council had just taken on three new members, who were just learning the budgeting process for the first time. This year, Council President Dustin Markham says they are better prepared.
"This year we have a better understanding of the budget process, and we have a better understanding of how to identify priorities for the citizens based on what we've heard from our communities and what they've dictated to us at the Council meetings," he says.
But nothing's set in stone yet. Thursday's session will look at what each individual department needs and wants and whether those are things the city can afford.
Council members say the proposed budget looks solid, but there is still work to be done.
"We're going to take tomorrow to go back through that budget, see what their essential needs and then what are some of the things we can provide for them in addition to the essential needs that will help get their jobs done," Markham says.
The Council has already approved close to 15-thousand dollars in salary increases for some department heads. Last year, the Council cut those salaries by about $40,000 and promised to review their performance.
"I voted for them because they did step up and they have done some things this year. All their people I think have stepped up a little bit," Hammon says.
Once finalized, the new budget will be passed Sept. 15.