lagrangenews.com

Raises, rate increases in proposed West Point budget

Jennifer Shrader Staff writer

October 30, 2013

There are water and sewer rate increases, along with a proposed pay increase for employees, in the proposed 2014 West Point budget.


The long-debated Hawkes and Bradshaw libraries, however, didn’t make the highlight reel Tuesday when City Manager Ed Moon went over the proposal with West Point City Council.


Mayor Drew Ferguson IV said the city actually has until March 2014, when current funding runs out, to decide the library funding, but the city hopes to have a decision long before then. Council will go over the completed study and report from library consultant Joe Forsee at its next work session, Nov. 7.


In the meantime, there are plenty of budget numbers for council to consider. West Point does its budget on the calendar year so Moon has been working on the plan since August.


The plan includes a 2 percent cost of living employee pay increase, the first since 2011. The city implemented a pay plan for all employees, categorizing salaries based on experience, in 2012, which resulted in many employees getting a pay increase. Some did not however and Moon said it’s time for another across-the-board increase.


The city is also hiring one new employee, a city planner, to administer the Forward Fund. The fund was created to administer money collected by the city from Kia Motors in its multi-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement with the city and other local governments.


Residents could see an increase in sanitation costs. The city currently has a request for proposals out to look at privatizing garbage pick-up. If the city privatizes pick-up an annual $180,000 loss in the sanitation department is expected to disappear. If the city keeps its current system, running its own garbage pick-up, a 2 percent rate increase has been recommended, meaning the charge would go from $17.20 to $17.54 a month.


Moon also is recommending water and sewer rate increases after an annual look at the rates as part of a condition of grant funding for infrastructure.


“We decided to look at this every year to keep us from going several years and getting a large increase all at once,” he said.


A 2 percent increase is recommended this year. The base charge for water would rise 17 cents to $8.76 a month and sewer would rise from $2.81 to $2.87 per 1,000 cubic yards.


Electric and gas rates are proposed to remain unchanged.


The public will have a number of opportunities to hear about and comment on the budget before council takes a vote. A “listening session” is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at City Hall and a second listening session is likely to be held. Two public hearings also are planned, one at 8:15 a.m. Nov. 7 and at 6 p.m. Nov. 26. Another work session to discuss the budget will be held at 8:15 a.m. Dec. 5, before the vote, scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 9.