Residents can weigh in on budget before approval

While considering expected higher gas, electricity and employee health insurance costs, Cambridge City’s town council discussed what to spend in 2023.
During a nearly three-hour special meeting on July 27, town attorney Bob Bever helped council look over a draft of what he called a very tentative budget based on projected revenues. Bever said if council gives all workers a 3% raise, it would cost $26,220 and increase the town’s contribution to unemployment increases.
Superintendent of Public Works Ken Risch asked council to approve larger salaries for town laborers if a part-time laborer is hired instead of a full-time worker to fill Risch’s previous position. The pay savings could be divided between the workers.
Cambridge City Police Department cut a position and divided the salary last year in hopes of reducing steady turnover. The added pay has helped with retention, Chief Richard Roberts said.
At the end of the meeting, council voted to tentatively support a 10% increase for the two senior laborers and three part-time laborers, and a 12% raise for the two less-experienced full-time laborers. They also will consider a 10% raise for the clerk-treasurer and office clerk. Other employees would receive a 3% raise. Active volunteer firefighters would receive $500 each.
So far in 2021, the town already has spent more money on gas and electricity than expected.
Roberts and council agreed that the police department should budget $30,000 for gas next year. Fire Chief Jeff Gabbard recommended budgeting $5,000 for gas in 2023.
Gabbard said his highest priority is new overhead doors for the fire station because they are not blocking cold air and the furnace runs constantly. The council voted to provide up to $12,000 now for new doors.
The fire station roof also leaks, which means insulation also will need to be replaced as it gets worse. Gabbard said that $30,000 roof replacement could wait beyond 2023 if funds are not available.
City building repair priorities include termite damage and warped floors in the police department.
Council also wants to address negative community comments about the condition of Creitz Park, especially weeds on the playground. The Cambridge City Main Street organization is looking into grant funding to help pay for park improvements.
Council also discussed moving town elections to even-numbered years, when state and national races require the county to conduct it. That should reduce the cost of town elections, which are now held in odd-numbered years.
A draft budget must be submitted to state officials by Sept. 2. A public hearing also must be conducted. Council will review and adopt a final budget before the state’s Oct. 3 deadline.
Council’s next meeting will be 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, at the city building. The public may attend.

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