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Examiner
  • $318.9 million Independence city budget approved

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  • The city’s operating budget for fiscal year 2014-15 received unanimous approval Monday night from the City Council, establishing appropriations totaling $318,863,995.
    Last year’s approved budget checked in at $306,576,463.
    Included in this year’s budget are more than $75 million for the general fund for city operations (including police and fire departments), more than $104.1 million for the Power and Light Department, nearly $28 million for the water department, more than $23.5 for water pollution control.
    Council Member Scott Roberson, one of two new members elected in April, expressed his thanks to city staff for their work on the budget, though he maintained a future wish list.
    “It was an extremely long ordeal for me, and I’m sure it was for others,” Roberson said. “I still have some concerns. I still want to find more police and firefighters for the city, but with the tightness of the budget and economic struggles of both the city and the nation, it’s hard to do.”
    Roberson also voiced a long-term concern regarding economic development in the city, but he said it’s “catch-22” deal.
    “We rely on taxes for the general fund, but with our higher tax rates (relative to the metro area), it’s hard to entice businesses,” he said.
    In other business, Council Member Curt Dougherty said he received “great answers” to questions he had about the proposed renovation for the police headquarters. The ordinance authorizing the contract was up for a vote at the May 19 meeting, and Dougherty asked for a postponement at the time. Monday he asked to have the ordinance placed on the next week’s adjourned agenda.
    The contract with Imperial Construction is for $932,773. The project consists of remodeling the first floor and a portion of the men’s locker room on the ground floor.
    “I think that’s the best way we ought to go,” Dougherty said.
    The council also is expected to vote next week on incentives for Unilever’s planned expansion for its Independence plant. City Manager Robert Heacock said city staff will make a short presentation before that vote, which would take place during the adjourned meeting before the study session.
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