Council approves $75 million budget

Salem City Council members unanimously approved a $75,765,556 fiscal year 2016-17 general fund budget at their Monday night meeting. The budget, which is a 2.1 percent increase from the previous year, includes a 2.5 percent raise for full-time and part-time city employees, as well as varied raises for Salem City School employees.

The proposed budget was first presented before council at the March 14 Salem City Council meeting. This is the first raise for city and school employees since 2014, and the first time since 2009 that the city has had funding for raises and city services.

“Things are better and they’re going to get better,” said Salem Mayor Randy Foley at the previous meeting, when council held a budget public hearing. “We’re seeing it across the board. Better times are ahead, I assure you.”

The $1,572,512 million increase includes a 3 percent increase in water rates and a 0 percent increase in sewer rates, effective Jan. 1 2017. This differs from last year’s budget, which saw a 5 percent increase in water rates and a 1 percent increase in sewer rates, with no employee raises.

This year’s general fund also includes an increase in health and dental insurance by 5 percent. Electric rates will see a change in power cost adjustment from .0015 per KWH to .0025 for the next near, and electric consumption is predicted to be flat.

The budget also includes a $500,000 appropriation of funding to be used to purchase various equipment for several departments, including council agenda software, city replaced computers and laptops, a used plow truck and mower, office furnishings for the Salem City Clerk of Circuit Court office, a police car, kitchen renovations in two fire stations, as well as new voting machines. Currently, special equipment purchases total $472,664. The remainder will go towards reserved capital to be used for additional critical capital purchases.

The general fund also includes a total transfer of $21,843,901 to the school system, or 28.8 percent of the budget. Salem City Schools approved a $45.7 million budget in March, which was brought before and approved by council.

Councilman Jim Chisom was absent from the meeting. The next Salem City Council meeting is set for Monday, June 13.

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