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City to take new look at budget

By The Mercury

City commissioners will take what may be their last shot at setting a 2014 budget during a work session Tuesday at City Hall.

The 5 p.m. meeting is the fourth devoted to determining the city budget, and it is also the last on the schedule. As it now stands, commissioners are expected to finalize that budget during their Aug. 6 meeting.

Members of the city staff will present commissioners Tuesday with a document projecting a .26 mill increase in the current-year property-tax levy, taking that levy from 43.44 to 43.7 mills. In company with projected valuation increases, such a levy would result in an increase of about $30 in city property taxes on the owner of a house valued last year at $175,000, from $874.93 to $904.59.

As it now stands, the proposed budget gives city employees a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment, a 2.0 percent merit pool for city employees, and a 4.0 percent step increase for qualifying union members of the fire department.Overall spending is projected to rise to about $131 million from the current $121.8 million.

Also Tuesday, city officials are expected to tell commissioners that the condition of city streets overall is well below the desired level, and will continue to decline over the next 10 years until additional funding is identified to bring those streets up to acceptable condition. Officials project it will take at least four times the current funding levels for the next 10 years to improve streets to an acceptable level.

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