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SEWER REPAIRS, LAKE PROJECT WON’T REQUIRE TAX INCREASE

SHARE SEWER REPAIRS, LAKE PROJECT WON’T REQUIRE TAX INCREASE

Residents won't get soaked with new taxes and fees even though the city is completing new projects on Salem Lake and repairing the sewer system.

According to the fiscal 1994 budget passed recently by the City Council, Salem will spend $150,000 more over the next year than the previous year ($1.98 million, up from $1.83 million in fiscal '93). But the higher expenses will be offset by identically increased revenues - such as from new building permits and utility connection fees - rather than new fees or taxes.Chief among new expenses is a $500,000 citywide sewer upgrade that Salem voters approved in a bond election last fall. Sewer lines throughout much of the city were undersize (using 8-inch pipe instead of 12-inch pipe) and had been running at maximum flow capacity, Mayor Randy Brailsford said.

The project, which began this spring, involves replacing the pipe and adding larger lines to connect residents to Salem's wastewater treatment plant. The improved system could be completed as early as this fall.

Another provision of the bond proposition passed by residents last year will allow officials to refinance a 1986 sewer bond used to construct the 8-inch lines. Refinancing that bond at a lower rate will save Salem more than $20,000 in annual interest payments, thereby freeing up funds for additional sewer expenses.

Roughly half of the sewer project costs were added onto the fiscal '93 budget, while the remaining portion was added to the new budget.

Additionally, Salem is continuing work on a nearly $200,000 cleanup project that entails dredging and draining Salem Lake (also known as Salem Pond) to improve water quality and eliminate sludge and vegetation buildup. The project is part of the city's lake master plan, which entails reclaiming the lake and turning its park and playground area into bike paths and a small beach, as well as improving the park grounds.

The cost of the lake cleanup will be covered by $100,000 in state grants and a $95,000 federal clean-water grant. Part of the cost is also included in this year's water expense fund ($172,200).

General-fund revenues, which don't include utility revenues or the so-called "enterprise funds," will reach nearly $600,000 this year, including $95,000 from property taxes and $112,000 in sales taxes. General-fund expenditures include $150,000 for public safety (police, fire and ambulance) and $96,000 in highway and public improvements such as road repairs.