As Greencastle officials began Monday night planning for next year's city budget, a familiar theme emerged from the three-hour meeting.
Mayor Nancy Michael told council members Bob Sedlack, Mark Hammer, Russ Evans and John Lanie that the heads of various city departments have been instructed to once again "flat line" their budgets for 2007.
Many of the 22 or so individual budgets that make up the greater city budget have been kept nearly the same as last year, Michael said, with some adjustments being made to allow for special projects or purchases and salary raises for city employees.
Tentative budgets that were discussed by council members Monday night include: police department, $1,237,124; fire department, $1,225,268; Motor Vehicle Highway (street department), $900,855; parks and recreation, $498,914; attorney, $48,086; clerk-treasurer, $129,101; city council, $81,225; city engineer, $82,761; mayor, $75,343; planning and building, $109,829; and local road and street, $120,316.
Council members, excluding Tom Roach who was unable to attend the meeting, agreed by consensus with the numbers presented Monday night. However they will not take official action on the matter until after the budget has been published in the newspaper, a public hearing has been held, and two readings of the budget have taken place.
Mayor Michael announced that a special meeting to discuss the budget would take place at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 31, at which time a public hearing would be conducted and the budget would be voted on by the council on first reading.
The second reading, or vote, by the council is scheduled for Sept. 12. All meetings will be at city hall.
As they look to next year's budget, city officials are particularly excited about money that has been promised to them from Gov. Mitch Daniels' Major Moves initiative.
Street Commissioner Paul Wilson told the council Monday night that he was told the city of Greencastle would be receiving as much as $136,000 next year, based on its share of the governor's leasing of the state's toll road to foreign investors.
Mayor Michael responded that she believes a majority of that money -- approximately $100,000 -- should be used for additional repairs and construction to the city's network of sidewalks.
City officials set aside money for sidewalk repairs, which they completed this summer, but have said they would like to do more in the future.
In salary matters, council members also gave consensus to a new salary ordinance that would take effect along with the 2007 budget.
Highlights include flat raises for all city employees next year, to include $1,100 increases for department heads and $700 for remaining employees.
However, the ordinance also includes adjustments in pay for several city employees above the annual raise, some of them as much as 10 percent.
City-Clerk Treasurer Teresa Glenn said the salaries of some employees were being raised greater than the flat rate so they would better line up with their current job responsibilities. Council members expressed support for the plan.
Among several other changes, the Greencastle Fire Department will see three of its firefighters promoted to newly created "engineer" positions.
Chief Bill Newgent said he built money into his 2007 budget to pay for increased salaries for three firefighters who will be responsible for driving the trucks during emergency runs and seeing to their overall care and maintenance. That means a boost in their annual salary from $32,323 (for firefighters) to $33,323 (for firefighter engineers).
The city council will meet in regular session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8 at city hall.