Council approves adoption of preliminary budget

After a two and a half hour special budget meeting on Monday evening, members of city council voted 6-1 to approve the adoption of the preliminary budget. The budget will have a tax increase of 1.91 mills. During Monday evening's meeting, council members trimmed $19,543.10 from the budget, reducing it by nine tenths of a mill. Of the $19,543.10, $13,843.10 came from the elimination of a proposed three percent wage increase for management employees. The remainder of the cuts were made to various budget line items. Carol Muhitch, city finance director, explained that the reduction in the budget would save city residents about $1.80 on the increase to their real estate property taxes.According to Muhitch, the originally proposed 2 mill increase to the budget would have resulted in a tax increase of about $40 for a home with an assessed value of $20,000. The 1.91 mill increase would result in a tax increase of about $38.20 for a home with an assessed value of $20,000. Councilman Dick Dornisch made the motion that council members eliminate the proposed raise for the city's 13 management employees while not assessing those employees an increase in the amount they contribute to paying for health insurance. A roll call vote was held and council voted 4-3 to deny management the raise. Members voting in opposition to the raise were Sally Geyer, Denny Nero, Dan Hepner and Dornisch. Councilmen Bob Roberts, Steve Skok and Rick Gabler voted in favor of leaving the $13,843.10 in the budget for the wage increase. Following the decision to veto the wage increase, council members voted to adopt the preliminary budget, with Geyer being the only member in opposition. The budget will now be on display for 10 days for public review at both the St. Marys Public Library and at the St. Marys City Hall. For more on this story, see the Nov. 19 edition of The Daily Press.