Budget passes with split vote
The 2001 city budget was approved during a special meeting of the Baldwin City Council Thursday night, with Mayor Stan Krysztof casting the deciding vote.
Council members split the vote 2-2 following a public hearing on the budget. Council members Marilyn Pearse and Ted Brecheisen Jr. supported the budget as presented. Gene Nelson and Lee Whaley favored eliminating an additional police officer from the budget. Joe Salb was absent from the meeting.
The $7.8 million 2001 budget supported by 44.547 mills is nearly a 10-mill increase from the $7.3 million 2000 budget supported by 35 mills. A mill is $1 in property taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.
Most of the increase can be attributed to capital improvement projects, including the reconstruction of Sixth Street, the relocation of the portion of the city's waterline from Lawrence that currently runs beneath the Baker Wetlands, the widening of U.S. Highway 56 and improvements to the city's electrical distribution system.
The budget is also providing for city employee salary increases and an additional police officer.
Whaley reckoned the city could save a mill or two by eliminating the additional officer. Pearse said the overtime paid to the current police staff could nearly pay for the additional officer so eliminating the position from the budget wasn't necessarily a savings.
"I thought it was ridiculous we were paying so much overtime," Pearse said.
The new officer will help cover five of the eight shifts a week that only one officer is on duty.
Brecheisen said he would like to take a closer look at next year's police budget.
"They take a big chunk of our budget," he said.
The hearing on Thursday was the second hearing for the 2001 budget. City Administrator Larry Paine found a mistake following the first hearing on July 25 and recommended a second hearing be held.