Council ups park funding

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

CLOVERDALE -- No. 2 pencils with large, rubber eraser toppers awaited the Cloverdale Town Council members at the council's special meeting to discuss the 2008 budget Tuesday night.

Each line of the budget proposal, drawn up by Town Clerk-Treasurer Patti Truax, was literally penciled in, awaiting the changes of the council members. But, in the end, the council made relatively few adjustments to Truax's original figures.

The largest change was a $10,000 reduction to the fire expense budget. Council member Judy Whitaker pointed out that since Cloverdale is no longer operating its own fire department and contracting firefighting through Cloverdale Township, the town will not be responsible for paying for utilities for the department and other expenses like facility leasing. Council President Don Sublett suggested preliminarily knocking the "Fire Expense" line item from $25,000 to $15,000 and the council agreed. Sublett said he would talk to the township to make sure that Cloverdale's firefighting expenses would indeed fall by about that amount.

After some discussion, the members decided to redistribute the anticipated $10,000 firefighting savings to the Park Board, Redevelopment and Codification.

The Park Board will receive $6,500 -- up from last year's $2,000 -- under the proposal. The Redevelopment budget will increase from $2,000 to $5,000. The council also proposed adding $2,000 to Codification, the town's effort to hire a company to consolidate all local ordinances into a single volume.

Council Vice President Dennis Padgett praised the move to dramatically increase tax payers' contributions to the park.

The 2008 budget also includes a 12 percent increase in the cost of health insurance. Council member Glen Vickroy suggested that the town split the cost of the insurance premium, with employees paying 20 percent of the cost of the policy and the town paying only 80 percent.

Truax objected to such a change, saying that the insurance compensates for relatively low wages.

"It's been a perk of the job -- since there aren't many perks," she said.

Vickroy did not bring up the subject again.

Truax's budget also included a three percent increase in employee salaries.

Town electricity and liability insurance costs will increase seven percent each, as well.

Finally, the budget for ammunition for the police department increased from $800 to $1,400 because costs have gone up dramatically since demand has expanded because of the Iraq War, Cloverdale Police Chief Charlie Hallam said.

Tuesday night's meeting was only the initial discussion of the budget, with just the council, town employees and three members of the public in attendance.

The council will vote on a pre-adoption of the budget next week at their regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14 in town hall. The budget will face a final vote at the council's Sept. 11 meeting.

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