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Raise OK'd for Murray Council but not mayor
City's power department gets a big increase

MURRAY -- The City Council will get a pay raise next year but the mayor won't. It's part of the 1999-2000 fiscal budget the council approved Tuesday night after making last-minute adjustments.

The difference is a slight one in the overall $79 million budget. The big boost is in the power department to extend fiber-optics services to businesses and purchase a gas-turbine generation station jointly with the Utah Association of Municipal Power.New to the spending plan is hiring a full-time economic development director out of existing revenues in the Power Department's budget.

The council, however, took out the 6.8 percent proposed pay raise to Mayor Dan Snarr. His monthly salary will remain at $5,800 -- the only city employee who won't receive a cost-of-living increase.

Resident Kurt Jensen didn't think it was appropriate for the council to set its own pay or the mayor's while in office.

"The salary increase for the mayor is exorbitant. He ran for the salary he got," Jensen argued.

Councilman John Rush said the mayor didn't request the raise. And although he said Snarr deserves one, it's not good timing given other budget challenges.

For the same reason, Rush voted against giving the council a raise.

Councilman Leon Robertson's plan won approval. The council's monthly pay of $969 -- a $19 increase -- won't take effect until Jan. 1, 2000, after a new council comes on board. Next year, council members will each receive a $100 monthly expense allowance. (Four of the five council members -- all but Rush -- are up for re-election.)

Of concern to resident John Limburg at Tuesday's public hearing was the 125 percent increase in sewer fees that the council approved last week. A typical monthly sewer bill will jump from $6.70 to $15.08 in July.

Never mind that property tax won't go up. Hiking fees still hurts residents on fixed incomes, Limburg said.

"As citizens we look at them as taxes," he added. "We're not fooled."

The council, however, intends to look at reducing the sewer fee when the city starts receiving revenue from the billion-dollar redevelopment of the old smelter site. It also will look at raising the fees charged to developers for water and sewer improvements.

There was little debate about other parts of the budget.

The new budget includes several new positions: two police officers, a court clerk, a crime victim advocate, an evidence technician, a code enforcement officer, hiring a crew to keep trees trimmed away from power lines and a part-time budget analyst.

Employees will receive raises, with cost-of-living adjustments ranging from 1 percent to 2 percent -- depending on income.

Also, there's money to build a ball diamond at I-215 and the Jordan River thanks to a grant from Salt Lake County.

Yet the budget skimps on repairing roads. That's primarily due to a $2 million commitment to construct a north-south corridor at the old smelter site.

The council agreed with Rush. Once money comes rolling into the city from the redevelopment of the smelter site, the roads won't go ignored.