Columbia City Council to hold final budget meeting Monday

Monday, September 20, 2010 | 2:55 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council will consider the fiscal 2011 budget for the final time Monday night. The council will meet at 7 p.m. in its chambers at 701 E. Broadway, with a pre-dinner meeting at 5:45 p.m. to discuss a report on the downtown cameras, the dinner train and budget amendments.

Since City Manager Bill Watkins published his proposed $385.5 million budget in July, the council and Mayor Bob McDavid have proposed to reduce it by $136,495 through amendments.

Utility Rate Increases

If the budget passes, utility rates will increase for all four city utilities. The average monthly increase will be $8.25 on top of a $8.70 increase last year. That includes a 15 percent increase in sewer rates, 10 percent for water and a $1 increase for garbage collection per residence. 

The council will debate whether to raise the electric rates either 2 percent or 3 percent.  Watkins originally proposed a 3 percent increase in his budget, but at the Sept. 7 council meeting, McDavid called for a smaller 2 percent increase.  If the council adopts McDavid's 2 percent recommendation, it would mean collecting $1.2 million less than if the rate was raised 3 percent.

Public Safety

The council has amendments in line to fill four vacant firefighter positions at a cost of $344,000, after two retirements and two resignations. They partially staff a new two-person vehicle at Fire Station No. 2. To partly offset the costs, the Fire Department would decrease its budget $150,000 in areas such as travel and training according to a previous Missourian report

The police department plans to hire one police officer and two dispatchers if the proposed budget passes. The new staff will cost $175,535. 

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