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Bedford City Budget Up, Big Improvements Planned
Updated August 15, 2013 7:19 AM | Filed under: Politics
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(BEDFORD) - The Bedford City Council reviewed the 2014 budget Tuesday night which could include a 3 percent raise for city employees and possibly a raise for elected officials.

The 2014 budget is $17,238,213; up from this year's budget of $16,147,461.

Bedford Mayor Shawna Girgis and department heads presented their budgets to the council and in many cases budget spending was down or only saw slight increase. The overall budget was increased to reflect the pay increases and to cover costs related to the city's Stellar grant projects.

"The budget reflects the 3 percent increase in employee's salaries and an increase to the White River Humane Society," Girgis says. "The goal is to get all employees from the different departments at the same level and classification to make the pay fair. This is just the first step."

Here are some highlights and how the money will be spent:

Economic development: Girgis proposes a $300,000 budget for 2014, up from $100,000 this year, to cover matching money for the Stellar grant project.

The Administration fund is proposed at $1,873,773, up from $1,157,380, an increase of $716,393. Girgis said the additional money is for expenses related to the Stellar grant project and renovations to the Oakland City University-Bedford building on I Street, should the city take on that project.

Bedford Chief Dennis Parsley proposes spending $3,083,206, down from $3,243,734. Part of the decrease came with the purchase of a new computer system this year for the department.

Fire Chief Jon Wagner's budget proposal is $2,955,619, down from $3,129,432. he plans to add new foam systems to the fire engines, purchase a Polaris ATV 4x4 to allow firefighters to make rescues on the rails and trails. Wagner says that way they can transport injured people out of areas where an ambulance may not be able to go. He also plans to replace an air bottle for firefighters.

Motor vehicle highway fund covers streets and related expenses it is proposed at $1,876,390, up from $1,710,663. Street Department Director Dan Kirk says the budget includes $125,000 to help match an Indiana Department of Transportation grant for the Plaza Drive South project.

Parks Director Mike Mitchell presented their budget at $1,354,627, up by $216,015 from $1,138,576. The budget reflects several capital improvements like upgrading the ball fields at Wilson Park, adding tennis courts at Wilson Park so they will be centrally located, new playground equipment and adding another soccer field at the soccer complex, sealing the parking lot at Otis and replacing and repairing the fascia at the Red Brick.

The Otis Park budget is proposed at $489,213, up from $452,946 this year.

Clerk-treasurer Julie Blackwell-Chase outlined the clerk-treasure budget which was $191,776, down by $18,902 from this year's $210,678. The big savings came from moving part of an employee's salary to another fund and a $15,000 allocation for software this year that will not be needed in 2014.

Mayor Girgis proposes spending $164,108, down from $171,348. The major difference - a $5,500 increase in the to the White River Humane Society for animal control.

The City council proposal stands at $26,495, down from $27,026. A 2 percent salary increase was budgeted for this year, but was not approved by the council. Mayor Girgis present the council paperwork on what council members get paid in other cities the same size of Bedford. Bedford has the lowest paid council members, per city size, in the state.

Planning and zoning was presented by Kirk, who also serves as plan department director. He proposes spending $254,686, down from $261,619. The savings came after an employee salary shifted to the water and sewer department budget.

Transportation/TASC was presented by Director Melanie Hacker. The budget proposal of $655,837 is up by $77,156 from this year's figure of $578,681. The additional expenses were due to a part-time driver moving to full-time status and adding the addition of a new bus. Mayor Girgis noted that about 75 percent of the TASC program is funded through state and federal grants.

On August 27 at 7 p.m., the council will hold a special meeting at the Bedford Chamber of Commerce room regarding the third and final passage of the elected official salary ordinance and employee ordinance.

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