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Centralia aldermen, employees hold preliminary budget talks

Posted on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:38 pm

At least a dozen attended the January 6 city budget and planning meeting of the Centralia Board of Aldermen, to discuss the city’s proposed 10.4 million, budget, a figure which includes the $1.05 million Centralia Police Department budget, but does not yet include the Parks and Recreation Department’s.

Discussions continued Friday at Centralia City Hall.

“I think it is really critical as a group that we are all on the same page,” said Chris Cox, Centralia mayor in his introduction. “That way when we are explaining it to the public, we are all on the same page.”

Five of the city’s six aldermen were there. Ward I’s Don Bormann arrived at the meeting’s conclusion.

City administrator Heather Russell said property tax revenues are down, but still steady, with a $30,000 deficit in the general revenue fund. “We don’t have a deficit in the general fund currently,” she said. “We would if we pass the increases suggested by the employee benefits and wages committee.”

She said real estate property taxes are up 74 percent from this time last year  and the public safety tax adds 11 percent more to the budget than last year now. That will enable them to purchase the fire department equipment they planned as well as fund the earlier hiring of two additional CPD officers.

Russell also discussed wages. “That’s probably why we have a bigger than normal audience” she said.

A two-year increase would average to a 20 percent increase overall. She said city employees were asking that all benefits remain the same. She said the general fund predictions include the increases.

“The other funds are relatively healthy,” Russell said, adding that the increase does not affect them as strongly as the general fund.

For the complete article, see next week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.