Police, salaries, wastewater project, & health insurace among topics for Bluffs budget workshop
Scottsbluff City Manager Rick Kuckkahn says the city is proposing to increase certain employee salaries in their budget this year.
Kuckkahn says one of the things the council will discuss during their annual budget workshop Monday morning are the recommendations from a salary study commissioned by the council last year. The study was done so the city knew where it had to increase salaries above a normal cost of living hike to make the pay comparable with a similar position in the public and private sector around the region.
Kuckkahn says the city has the money available to make the adjustments because of additional revenue from sales tax above the 1% hike placed in last year's budget.
Scottsbluff residents are proposed to see an increase of two and a half dollars in their basic monthly utility bill next year, mostly due to a project required at the city's wastewater facility. During the council's annual budget workshop Monday morning, City Manager Rick Kuckkahn will explain the city is facing federal regulations regarding sludge that require a larger than normal bump in the wastewater fee over the next few years.
Kuckkahn says an increase of five to six percent Increase in the wastewater fee is necessary over the next few years to raise the money for the project. This year the $1.25 monthly increase for wastewater on a basic utility bill comprises half of the $2.50 overall monthly utility hike.
Kuckkahn also says rising health insurance costs will be one of the things the city council will need to discuss during their annual budget workshop Monday. The city works on a self-funded plan, which he says normally helps the city save on costs. Kuckkahn says unfortunately that's not the case in this year's budget cycle, where employees had more than the normal amount of health problems.
Kuckkahn says the city will consider requiring the employees to pitch in more for insurance, while also increasing the city's share for insurance.
Kuckkahn says the police department may have an extra officer budgeted for the next fiscal year, but it won't be due to crime statistics. The issue of whether the department has enough officers has been discussed for the last couple years, but Kuckkahn says the latest statistics indicate the current schedule of having three officers and a supervisor on each shift is working.
Kuckkahn says the problem with the current schedule is there is no flexibility for turnover, sick leave or vacations. Kuckkahn says that means when the council hold their budget workshop Monday morning, they will discuss hiring an extra officer so the city is not short an officer on the street or requiring too much overtime from its existing force to provide adequate protection.
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