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New city budget almost complete

by Minden Press-Herald

City officials are putting the final touches on the proposed $35.5 million operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Minden City Council met earlier this week with city leaders for their final workshop to balance the budget before it goes before the council in September for a vote. The city’s fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

“The reality is, we are either going to have to raise more revenue or cut services,” Minden Mayor Tommy Davis said of the budget. “I know the general public thinks we don’t spend our money wisely, but we have made cuts to the budget.”

Revenue for the proposed budget is projected at $35,164,835 for the fiscal year, while expenses are expected to cost $35,539,545. To fill the gap, the city will use $374,710 from reserves.

In hopes to boost revenue, the city leaders plan on restructuring water billing. Davis said city leaders are still working on the exact wording, but rather than all water users paying the same rate, consumers will be broken into four tiers based on how many gallons was used.

Larger water consumers will pay a slightly higher rate for water, which will not have much affect on homeowners, Davis said during the budget workshop. The new rates are expected to bring in around $160,000 for the fiscal year.

The city council is expected to vote on the block water rates and changes to sewer rates at its meeting on Aug. 7. If approved, the new rates would go into effect later in the year.

Minden residents will also see a $3 fee on monthly utility bills at the start of the fiscal year. The funds will be put into a capital improvements account, which will be used for projects across the city when needed.

“It’s kind of like a savings account,” Davis said. “The money will be used for projects such as street improvements, water department or wastewater projects, things of that nature.”

While no raises are in the proposed budget, a 2 percent longevity raise is included and no employee benefits will be cut, Davis said.

“I do not want to balance the city’s budget on the backs of city employees,” he said. “We are very lean in departments and don’t have an abundance of employees.”

Before the council votes on the proposed budget at its September meeting, a public hearing will be held for residents to voice concerns or ask questions.

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