City employees in Manawa might receive a 3 percent wage increase.
When the Manawa City Council met as a Committee of the Whole, Monday, Nov. 11, to discuss the preliminary 2014 city budget, the council agreed by a vote of 5-1 to explore the option of providing city employees with a 3 percent wage increase in 2014. Alderperson Joel Bonikowske voted nay. Bonikowski said he preferred a 2 percent wage increase for city employees.
The preliminary budget presented at the meeting did not include a wage increase for city employees.
City employees received a 3.16 percent wage increase in 2013.
The preliminary 2014 budget called for an increase in the mill rate from $9 to $9.89. This will go done slightly in the final budget. Whether city employees receive a wage increase or not will not change the mill rate number.
Expenditures increased by $61,086 in the preliminary budget. Debt service accounted for most of that with an increase of $33,009. Much of this is due to the Union Street and Oak Street projects, said Cheryl Hass, clerk/treasurer for the city of Manawa.
“Part of that debt went to the water and sewer. It actually would have been $24,000 more but I split it out to water and sewer. It was the only way we could make our budget stay in line,” Hass said. “And they should pay their own share.”
Employee benefits increased $7,144. The budget for streets increased $8,500.
“There are four different categories in the streets that have gone way over budget,” said Hass. “Sand and salt is one. Snowplow blades. We tried to adjust for that and we may have to cut this out again. It’s just a guess right now.”
Revenue in the preliminary budget increased only $5,306. Employees benefit share increased $7,531 as employees will be required to pay more of their retirement. Revenue is down $6,724 for computer state aid. Revenue from shared taxes is down $1,946.
Hass said the difference between last year’s budget and this year’s preliminary budget is $46,917.
After explaining the changes in expenditures and revenue from last year to this year, Hass told the board the only way to provide city employees with a wage increase is to cut the budget in other areas because the city is at the limit where the state says it can be at. She said there were areas in the budget that could be adjusted if the council chose to provide pay increases to city employees.
She also said the city refinanced some debt this year which eliminated a $60,000 payment due in December. Hass said around $20,000 of that will be used for computer maintenance, leaving $40,000.
“That you can put away unless you think we should spend it on something else but one thing you don’t want to do is to drop your budget or put it back into this budget because that’s a one-time fix. Next year that money is not going to be there,” Hass said.
Hass said there is also $40,000-$50,000 left in a TIF fund.
Hass provided the council with figures as to how much the budget would increase if a 1, 2 or 3 percent wage increase were given. A 3 percent increase meant around $8,500 had to be cut from other areas of the budget.
Alderperson Alice Brown questioned if $17,340 needed to be budgeted for economic development.
Hass also said the computer maintenance budget could probably be cut also. But she also pointed out that the city hall roof needs to be addressed and there is no money set aside for that.
Frank Jaeger, director of Public Works, said the estimate from a couple of years ago to repair the city hall roof was $50,000-$60,000.
“We can’t afford to have the roof leaking and wrecking everything in between,” said Mayor John Smith.
“The roof on the building should be your number one issue,” Jaeger said.
Smith said that the city needs to take care of the city hall building. He also said all city employees work hard and it was his recommendation that if cuts can be made to the budget, the city employees should also be taken care of.
It was recommended that new bids be obtained to repair the roof.
The discussion returned to where to make cuts to the budget. Alderperson Mary Eck revisited cutting the economic development budget. After further discussion Hass recommended taking $4,000 out of the computer maintenance budget, $2,500 out of the streets budget and the rest from the economic development budget.
“I want to say out loud, though, that I don’t think that if you are going to cut any of the streets or any budget, that we need to keep these contingency funds because we need to have things like if the street sweeper breaks or something. We need to make sure we have some replacement power,” Eck said.
Hass will prepare another preliminary budget that will include a 3 percent wage increase for city employees. This budget will be presented at a budget hearing scheduled for Monday, Nov. 18 at 5:15 p.m. at Manawa City Hall. Budget options will be discussed at this hearing, and a final 2014 budget will be approved.