2011 city budget nearing approvalDickinson city officials are inching closer to adoption of a 2011 budget and residents may see increased user fees after the City Commission approved a first reading of both items during a meeting at City Hall Tuesday evening.
Dickinson city officials are inching closer to adoption of a 2011 budget and residents may see increased user fees after the City Commission approved a first reading of both items during a meeting at City Hall Tuesday evening.
Average utility bills are projected to increase about 4.5 percent, or about $2.33 per month, said Tina Johnson, City Accounting Manager.
Water usage rates will increase by $.10 per 1,000 and a street light utility, adopted last year, will increase by $1.
Solid waste collection rates will also see an increase by about 3 percent for both residential and commercial users, Johnson said.
This isn’t the first increase solid waste rates have seen in recent years.
“We are carrying a negative cash balance in our solid waste right now, our expenses have continued to rise and actually the first increase we made in several years was in 2010 and so we had to add an additional increase to try to cover just the cost of it,” Johnson aid.
The city has added more than 400 new accounts to the solid waste pickup service without adding staff or equipment, thus overtime is ensuing, said City Administrator Shawn Kessel.
“That’s not a long-term scenario that can be sustained and so we have to look at alternatives to operating using overtime and such,” Kessel said.
City Commissioner Rod Landblom questioned the rationale behind another increase in solid waste collection rates.
“That’s my concern is because in 2010 when there’s an increase and now we’re looking for another one a year later,” Landblom said.
Alcohol-related licenses will also see fee hikes.
Annual alcohol related licenses, including commercial on/off sale licenses, are proposed to increase by about $745, Johnson said.
The 2011 budget also includes new fees such as an alcohol license transfer fee and issuance fee as well as a plan review fee in the engineering department, Johnson said.
Property tax revenue is projected to increase by about $100,000 due to new construction coming onto the tax roll, with no increase to existing properties, Johnson said.
Included in the budget are proposed city employee salary increases which would cost the city about $30,000.
The new pay scale uses a step and grade system, with the lowest increases slated for less than 1 percent and the highest capping out at 10 percent.
With the exception of two people, all employees would receive a 2 percent or higher salary increase.
“What this does is it recognizes the current step and grade system, the basic philosophies … but it changes them slightly to recognize that some of our city staff may be underpaid when compared to other public entities of like duties,” Kessel said in August upon presentation of the proposed system.
The new pay system will go before the city’s Civil Service Commission on Sept. 17.
The city is having a difficult time recruiting new and retaining present employees due to high paying energy sector jobs.
To alleviate further issues, the city is mulling over adoption of a compensation pay plan, a sort of sign-on bonus.
Kessel said the sign-on bonuses would be determined by salary and position and be paid in increments over a year’s time.
The proposed ordinances must go through a second reading before final passage.
If approved, adoption of the increases, along with the 2011 budget, would happen before Oct. 2, Kessel said.