Monroe schedules budget vote Tuesday

May. 18, 2013 @ 02:43 PM

Monroe City Council will vote to approve on whether to approve the 2013-2014 budget at its meeting Tuesday.

Interim City Manager Greg Demko said this budget focuses more on maintaining and beautifying the things the city has, instead of building new things. The budget also adds at least six full-time and part-time positions. 

City parks are a focus in this year's budget. Demko said there is dangerous and outdated equipment at many parks. The budget also proposes repairing the grounds at the Winchester Center. 

Demko told City Council in February that of the nine active park areas, the city can probably only afford four. He suggested they prioritize the parks and focus on Parks Williams Athletic Center, the Winchester Center, Belk Tonawanda Park and the Dickerson Center. They would remove hazardous equipment and maintain the other parks, while focusing on those four. 

At the May 7 City Council meeting, one resident spoke and requested that they add more equipment for the children at Creft Park. He told council that the swings were removed and replaced with ones of lesser quality. Council requested that staff look into equipment for Creft Park. 

In addition to park maintenance, the budget sets aside funds for beautification programs. The budget includes buying a second segment of Highway 74, tree and flower plantings, landscaping at fire stations, expanding the facade and sign grant program to include other business areas, strategic lighting and other projects.

"A continued focus on upkeep and enhancement of community resources through partnerships and proper planning will allow Monroe to grow and flourish," Demko wrote in his budget proposal. "Over time, we will be able to not only change the physical landscape, but also implement standards that are not required, but expected."

The proposed budget would add a range master position to oversee the city's shooting range, an electric engineering technician to meet with customers about installations, two seasonal part-time employees to hand paint meters, a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System coordinator to focus on public outreach and compliance with federal regulations and an airport manager. 

While there is no tax increase, there are a few rate increases. There is a proposed 2.4 percent rate increase for water and sewer rates. 

Next year, there will be a 7 percent wholesale power rate increase. In order to offset the city's cost, the electric rate will increase by 6 percent in the proposed budget. The natural gas rate would also increase by 4.88 percent. There is no proposed solid waste rate increase.

Demko's proposed budget reinstates the merit program for city employees and includes funding for the 7 percent increase in health and dental insurance premiums for the self-insurance program. The budget would also restructure the fire personnel schedule to improve staffing. 

City Council will vote to approve the budget at their Tuesday meeting.