City Council adopted a 2015 budget on Monday, Dec. 15 that will add a new police detective and a code enforcement officer, yet will cut support to local charities.
The budget puts the city in a good position to move the city forward, said city clerk Sam Taylor, but revenue streams have not kept up with the cost of doing business. The $8.5 million General Fund, which pays the everyday cost of running the city, will lose $18,000 in 2015.
Ferndale police officer Justin Pike will be promoted to detective, and the city will fill Pike’s empty position by hiring a new officer in June, costing $50,000 for 2015. The new code enforcement officer added will work part-time.
Financial support for local charities, including the Ferndale Food Bank, was left out of the budget. In the council meeting on Monday, Dec. 16, a motion to add $3,600 for the food bank was voted down, but the council hopes to support charities again in the near future.
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“We’re hoping that things will be better once the year starts and we can resume supporting some, a few, or all of those charities,” Councilman Jon Mutchler said. Mutchler voted for the $3,600 in support of the food bank.
Councilman Keith Olson described the budget as “another lean one,” yet he was pleased with the addition of a code enforcement officer. He said it has been hard to enforce rules and regulations that city council passes.
“It would be the same as having all these laws and having no police to enforce them,” Olson said.
Other budget expenses include $80,0000 for two police cars and $93,000 for building maintenance. The exterior of city hall will be painted at a cost of $15,000 in order to preserve the life of the structure and keep up with the aesthetics of the new library next door, Taylor said.
The city is also working on having government employees switch to a more affordable health care plan which would save the city a significant amount of money, Mutchler said. Employees in administrative positions who are not represented by unions already switched to a lower-cost plan, Mutchler said.
Taylor said the city is also hoping for an increase in retail sales tax, based on minor increases in sales revenue in the last few years. He believes the city slowly is recovering from the recession, and the 2015 budget reflects that.
“I think staff is very pleased that we were able to do this much with what we have,” Taylor said.