2010-12-02 / Front Page

Hearing set for comments on city budget

By KIP BURKE, news editor

A hearing is set for 9 a.m. Monday at City Hall for members of the public to comment of the City of Washington’s proposed $17.4 million annual budget for 2011.

After hearing from the public, the Washington City Council will

vote to adopt the budget at the regular December meeting of the council, Monday, December 13, at 6 p.m. at the Pope Center.

The budget has already been finetuned at council committee meetings. At last week’s called meeting, City Administrator Mike Eskew said, “I’m not finding much evidence of anyone wasting money in this budget. If you can find areas we can trim, I’m ready to listen.”

Some city council members, however, spoke of concern about parts of the $17.4 million budget. Ames Barnett pointed out the 2.5 percent increase in electric rates as the first place he wanted to cut. “Our utility rates are too high already,” he said. “We shouldn’t raise them higher.”

The cost of the city’s power has gone up, Eskew said, but not all of the increase was passed on to utility customers. “There’s been a 12.1 percent increase in our cost of power from MEAG. Some of the money we’ve been getting out of the MEAG trust we’ve put toward ameliorating some of the increase, getting it down to just 2.5 percent.”

The 2.5 percent electric rate increase amounted to some $250,000, Barnett said. “This is an example of when the city spends, all electric customers pay. Cut costs, cut electric bills – simple,” he said. “Mike Eskew is doing a great job looking, but as council members we have to put our own wants aside and focus on all bill payers. When citizens want, people have to pay. We need to always realize that. Items such as pools may be wanted and needed, but it is an added cost that citizens have to pay.”

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