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Dickinson begins pinning down 2010 budget

Dickinson officials met Friday to discuss the city's 2010 preliminary budget, with relatively few changes and no city property tax increase, a city official said.

City Administrator Shawn Kessel said the only property tax growth the city has budgeted for are properties being constructed and for those that are going off of tax abatements or exemptions. "We're only a portion of the overall property tax bill," Kessel said. "The school system has about half of the bill, the city makes up about 20 to 22 percent, the county about the same and the park district makes up the rest. Because we're not budgeting an increase does not mean there may not be one. General government, which includes the commission, administration, courts, along with the police and public works departments and more, has the most expenses, Kessel said.

The city has about $18 million in revenue to work with, he added.

Bob Sivak, Dickinson Fire Department chief, requested additional funds to increase volunteer firemen's hourly wage.

"The city of Dickinson has always been very conscious of and very good with addressing the commitment of the citizens who choose to volunteer with the fire department," Sivak said. "There has always been something in place for them so what they do for the community doesn't cost them money."

Sivak said there are about 34 volunteers who receive: $8 for firefighters and lieutenants, $9 for captains and $10 for chiefs.

If approved, rates would be: $8 for a firefighter in training, $9 for a firefighter after receiving certification, $9.75 for lieutenants, $10.75 for captains and $12 for an assistant chief.

"They only receive this pay when they respond to a call or when they are down here for training," Sivak said.

A budget item calls for a 3 percent raise for all full-time city employees and part-time civil service employees. Commission President Dennis Johnson said he isn't sure if the raise will be feasible due to the economy.

The city budget must be to the Stark County by Oct. 7, Kessel said. "We are predicting on Sept. 8, we'll have a first reading of the budget."

On Sept. 21, Kessel said a public hearing will be held during the City Commission meeting. The public is encouraged to attend and ask questions.

On Oct. 5, a second and final reading will be held and the budget will be presented to the county on Oct. 7.