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CENTERVILLE OKS $4 MILLION BUDGET
NO TAX INCREASE, BUT A $2.25 MONTHLY INCREASE IN GARBAGE FEES

After last-minute adjustments to buy a dump truck and decrease a proposed hike in garbage rates, the Centerville City Council approved a $4 million budget for the coming fiscal year.

The budget calls for no increase in taxes but does include a $2.25 monthly increase in garbage collection fees and relies on a water rate increase approved last December. The increase in the monthly garbage fee was reduced from the originally proposed increase of $2.75.At the urging of councilman Kent Lindsey, the council agreed to make some adjustments in spending in the coming two years to buy a new dump truck for the city. With snowplowing and sanding equipment, it could cost between $55,000 and $60,000.

The city's fleet of plows includes an aging truck that breaks down frequently and requires more maintenance than it's worth, Lindsey said.

"The city's going to be back where it was five years ago in trying to plow the streets unless we replace that truck. I'm not inclined to vote for the budget the way it sits," Lindsey said.

The other council members agreed, although Bruce Erickson said he believes the addition of another police officer is equally important.

"But with the streets not plowed, the police can't function, and the city shuts down," Lindsey said.

After mulling over the figures again, the council agreed to spread the cost of a new truck over the next two years, committing $32,000 from this year's budget and an equal amount for next year. The money this year can come partly from the general fund and partly from the water fund, City Administrator David Hales suggested.

The water fund, boosted by last December's rate increase and a $310,000 bond issue, is in better shape than previously estimated because bids on four water projects also approved Tuesday night came in $18,000 under the city engineer's estimate.

The budget approved by the council includes a $2.2 million general fund, with the largest chunk of revenue, $675,000, coming from sales taxes. Property taxes account for $486,000 and the city's franchise tax on utilities will bring in an estimated $299,000.

The $2.25 monthly increase in garbage collection fess will go in part to pay the city's higher tipping fee at the county garbage-burning plant, in part to finance the purchase of cans supplied to residents for the automated pickup system, and partly to build a reserve in the fund, Hales explained.

Lindsey opposed the portion of the increase for financing the purchase of garbage cans, which residents can buy from the city, saying it puts the city into the lending business.

After a lengthy discussion, the council opted to change the city's policy of allowing residents to either lease or buy the wheeled cans.