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City utility charges rising by 2 percent

The Jamestown City Council wrapped up most of its 2012 budget during a special meeting Thursday. The budget increases costs of city-provided utilities and provides a pay raise for city employees while building the city's financial reserves.

The City Council went into the meeting with about a $600,000 difference between the 2012 expenditure requests and last year's budget. Officials had pledged to balance a budget at the same tax level as last year during a preliminary meeting last week.

"I feel really comfortable," said Katie Andersen, Jamestown mayor. "There is more accuracy involved and some departments removed some items."

The council increased charges for city-operated utilities by 2 percent across the board. This includes water, sewer and sanitation. It also increased the charges for solid waste hauled by contractors, or waste originating outside Jamestown, to the city-owned baling facility by 10 percent. The move to increase the fees passed unanimously.

The fee increases allow the city to transfer an extra $100,000 from the water utility to the city general fund.

Items cut from the budget included the city building inspector position held by Jim Weight, who is retiring at the end of the year.

His tasks will be redistributed to other city employees, according to Jeff Fuchs, city administrator. The saving to the city amounts to about $85,000. Other cuts included a reduction in the Jamestown Police Department line item for major case investigations and cutting some new pagers and boots from the Jamestown Fire Department budget.

Fuchs also suggested the city increase its 2012 revenue budget by $260,000 under the assumption that Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements for expenses the city is incurring in 2011 won't be received until 2012.

"In looking it over I don't feel this is money we'll see until next year," he said.

The city also moved three street department projects totaling $200,000 from the city's general fund to the city share of specials fund. This fund receives the money from the half percent city share of the sales tax.

A separate project, estimated at $99,000, to build a salt and sand shelter building was transferred from the street department fund to the public building fund. This fund has its own mill levy and has reserves to cover the project, Fuchs said.

The salt and sand shelter building is required by the Environmental Protection Agency and prevents rain and snow from washing through the salt and sand the city has stockpiled for use on streets during the winter.

The City Council also approved a two-part wage package for city employees amounting to about 4.5 percent. Employees will get a 2 percent cost-of-living raise on Jan. 1, 2012, and a 2.5 percent step increase on the anniversary of their employment.

Fuchs said the cost-of-living raise will be tempered by a 1 percent increase in the employee share of retirement going into effect at the same time.

With the adjustments the city will add about $200,000 in reserves during the 2012 budget year, something Fuchs said the city hasn't done in the last three years.

"In 2008 the city had about $1.5 million in reserves or about 25 percent of the budget," he said. "Even with these things the city will end 2012 with a projected $1.1 million in reserves. We're still trying to get back to the $1.5 million. We need some years without floods and snow."

The City Council will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. Sept. 20 at the council chambers to meet with representatives of Central Valley Health District concerning its budget. The council can then approve its preliminary budget in preparation for a budget hearing to be held Oct. 3 as part of the City Council's regular monthly meeting.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by email at