City posed to raise minimum pay

Salaries for City of Clinton employees will raise to a minimum hourly wage of $15 and hiring pay for police officers increase to $40,000 under the 2022-22 proposed budget, which also includes cost of living adjustments for employees and rises in residential and commercial utility rates.

Interim City Manager Scott Elliott gave an outline of the proposed 2022-23 City of Clinton budget during a recent meeting. The budget is expected to be considered for adoption this Tuesday, June 21, at 6 pm in the City Hall Auditorium.

The recommended budget for 2022-23 totals $16,706,100, an increase of 2% when compared to the current year’s amended budget. The $16.7 million includes $10,665,300 in general fund expenditures, $5,904,300 in water and sewer fund and $136,500 in non-major fund expenditures.

The budget proposes to maintain the general fund ad valorem tax rate of 40 cents per $100 valuation. One penny of the tax rate is projected to generate approximately $86,000.The current special tax rate remains unchanged at 18 cents per $100 valuation, under the proposal.

The annual budget process utilized the City Council’s focus areas and strategic plan, as well as “economic trends, service expectations and emerging community needs identified by City Council, staff and advisory boards,” the interim city manager stated. “This year additional emphasis was placed on factors such as growing inflation, flat tax base, sales tax revenue and a decreasing city population. The budget represents significant consideration and study of these factors and, accordingly, I am confident the recommended budget will serve the community well.”

Among the highlights, the proposed budget:

• Raises Clinton Police officer salaries — the hiring rate of pay for a police officer raised to $40,049 — to address the vacancy rate. Elliott noted that vacancies are an issues across several city departments, but the Police Department was deemed as most pressing due to public safety being an emphasis of the Council. In a budgetary breakdown, Elliott offered a graphic of a $1 bill and how it is divvied up amongst the departments citywide. Public safety accounts for 46 cents of the dollar.

• Raises minimum hourly city pay to $15 per hour

• Transitions city recycling program to three drop-off convenience center sites

• Accounts for a 75% increase in engine fuel costs. With continued rising inflation and fuel costs in the current state of the economy, city leaders said this may not be enough to cover actual costs incurred

• Increases commercial trash pick-up/tipping fee by 5%

• Increases water and sewer base and consumption rates by 5%. Water base fees are proposed to raise from $13.84 to $14.53, with consumption rates set to increase from $2.12 to $2.23. Sewer base fees are proposed to raise from $14.43 to $15.15, with consumption rates set to increase from $2.06 to $2.16.

• Includes 3% employee cost of living adjustment (COLA) and merit funding, which allows employees an average of 0.5% merit compensation. The budget continues the non-sworn employee 401k plan with a 0.5% contribution. Sworn law enforcement are provided a 5% 401k contribution.

• Provides a one-time bonus for employees ($500 for full-time, $250 for part-time) utilizing miscellaneous American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds

• Eliminates 2.5 full-time positions (one full-time in Public Works, 1.5 full-time in the Recreation Department maintenance staff due to shifting Fisher Drive and Newkirk parks maintenance to the Public Works Department.

• Includes $275,000 from fund balance (general fund) to purchase two police cars, additional road paving above the estimated Powell Bill allocation, additional street maintenance and cemetery road paving. The budget also includes $150,000 from fund balance (water and sewer fund) for infrastructure improvement and repairs.

Statewide, the local option sales tax revenue is projected to increase approximately 3%.

Residential curbside solid waste fees remain unchanged from the previous fiscal year at $15.50 per month. The commercial cubic yard rate is proposed to increase 5% to $5.25. Also, it is proposed curbside recycling be discontinued citywide and transition to three recycling convenience sites. This transition is due to the monthly average recyclable contamination rate of 74% drop off.

Cemetery plot fees at Springvale and Sandhill, last adjusted in 2014, are proposed to increase in 2022-23. Initially proposed to increase from $600 to $750, a modification to that will see the plot fees hiked to $665, according to the new proposal.

Elliott acknowledged department directors and finance director Kristin Stafford in developing the budget.

“The city’s stewardship of public funds is among the most important responsibilities entrusted to us as public servants,” Elliott stated. “This budget reflects commitment to our strategic goals and strong emphasis on maintaining existing service levels, taking care of our infrastructure, and responding to emerging community needs and desires.”

Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.

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