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Board approves more raises for city employees

Monticello aldermen Tuesday upheld a promise they made toemployees late last year when determining the town’s budget for2007.

Town employees were awarded an addittional pay increase of 1percent, with department supervisors receiving 1.5 percent duringthe board’s meeting Tuesday.

When setting the 2007 budget last fall, aldermen included araise of 2 percent for hourly workers and 3.5 percent fordepartment heads, but promised to re-evaluate the amount of the payhike after the legislative session. Tuesday’s raises were on top ofthose approved last year.

Aldermen limited the raise in the fall because of concerns aboutbills that could be introduced in the Legislature and their effecton the city’s budget.

In particular, a bill that would increase cigarette taxes whilereducing grocery taxes had aldermen worried. An estimated 10percent of the town’s income comes from those taxes.

“They’re done, the grocery tax held and we’re not taking a cut,”Mayor David Nichols said Tuesday when introducing the second roundof pay increases.

The pay increases will be offset by savings gleaned from lowerinsurance premiums, he said.

In other matters, the board considered a request by schooldistrict officials to install speed bumps on Smith Lane near thebaseball field.

School officials cited an increase in traffic and speed on thestreet since county officials closed Cougar Lane, which was alsodone at the district’s request.

Speed bumps would appear to be the only option available foraldermen, Nichols said. A stop sign could not be added to thestreet because there is no intersection and “rumble strips” are notlikely to encourage drivers to slow down.

The board took no action on the request in order to confer withschool officials to determine if other alternatives wereavailable.

Alderman also considered repairs to a malfunctioning water pump.The cost to repair the pump was estimated at $35,000 to$50,000.

Last month, aldermen approved a company to run fiber opticcameras through a pump near the water treatment plant to determinewhat parts were malfunctioning.

The cameras found a ruptured screen, the mayor said.

“It appears like it’s allowing sand into the pump so it’s notworking well,” Nichols said.

Designed to draw 1,000 gallons a minute, the pump’s productionhas declined to approximately 300 gallons a minute, he said.

The repair project would use an alternative method to screendebris and replace the damaged pump.

Nichols said other town pumps were working fine and the damagewas not overly impacting water pressure or supply so it would notbe necessary to declare an emergency to bypass the bidding processto make immediate repairs.

The water pump repair did have an impact on the board’s decisionto reimburse the Lawrence County Civic Center board of directorsfor some renovations at the building, however.

The civic center board recently painted several areas of thebuilding, among other minor renovations, at a cost of nearly$20,000. The town, which owns the building, typically assists thebuilding’s caretakers in meeting upkeep costs.

“Normally, we would be inclined to do that, but with what wejust discussed about the water well I’m inclined to pass,” Nicholssaid.

The board was seeking $9,000 in reimbursement.