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Budget plans call for raises

MONTICELLO – Aldermen are considering changes in several citydepartments, including an employee pay raise, as part of the newbudget.

The town budget must be completed by Sept. 15 for the new fiscalyear, which begins Oct. 1.

The board did not approve any of the changes but tabled them forconsideration. A vote on each of Mayor David Nichols’recommendations is expected at the recessed meeting Aug. 17.

A number of changes were recommended for the waterdepartment.

They included price hikes on several services but were notexpected to have much of an impact on “those who pay their bills,”Nichols said.

The mayor recommended that water and sewer tap fees, for newhomes or homes not already using town services, be increased to$250 each, or $500 for both, to cover the town’s costs in providingthe service.

“We’re losing money on doing these taps,” Nichols said. “We needto get them where they’re paying for themselves and not a drain onthe department’s budget.”

The taps often take a full crew all day to complete, he said,because the pipes being tapped are buried deep. The current rate isnot covering those costs.

The mayor also recommended an increase from 5 percent to 10percent on fees for those who fail to pay their bills by the duedate to compensate the town for the time employees spend oncollection rather than performing their other tasks.

Late payers would also be charged a higher reconnect fee whendisconnected because of a failure to pay the bill, Nichols added ina separate recommendation. The fee would be increased to $50 and afine of $100 assessed for any meter that the customer has turnedback on after a city employee has turned it off. A further chargeof $500 would be assessed to a customer who removed a lock placedon a disconnected meter.

Nichols further suggested the town consider increasing its waterand sewer deposit on rental property to $125 for residentialrentals and $200 for commercial rentals.

“We’ve had several businesses, especially, that have run uptheir bills, closed down and then the owner has moved away withoutpaying for the service,” Nichols said. “A higher deposit would helpensure they pay those bills and also cover more of the bill if theyshould skip town.”

Some policy changes for other departments were alsodiscussed.

Chief among them was a proposal to raise all employees salariesby 1 percent to 5 percent. Town employees have received a slight”cost of living” raise each of the past seven years, Nicholssaid.

The mayor said he could not say yet how much the raises wouldcost the town.

“I need to play with it a bit more to pin it down,” he said.

Nichols said he would do the math and report to the board at theAug. 17 meeting with a comprehensive report on the proposedraises.

None of the recommendations would require a budget increase, hesaid, and he fully expected to be able to balance a budget withoutan increase.