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Thayer electric rates to go up

Friday, July 15, 2011

In a special noontime meeting July 7, Thayer aldermen approved hiking city electric rates by 15 percent in September.

Alderman Steve Alford motioned to increase the rates in an effort to curb city losses on the municipal utility, which then passed unanimously. The last electric rate increase was in 2009.

City officials said the cost of electric service from the city's provider has jumped in the last two years. The city can no longer afford to absorb those costs.

At the start of the 30-minute meeting, Mayor Earl "Buddy" Rogers addressed the council concerning city finances.

Rogers said that because city sales tax revenue continues to decline, the city must take action to cut costs.

Alderman Steve Alford proposed cutting the work week for city employees from 40 hours to 32 hours.

Alderman Mike Harber, who serves as board treasurer, said sales tax for this year is down about 17 percent compared to last year. He and City Clerk Donna Martin are calculating the loss in revenue, and are likely to have a report at the July 19 board meeting.

Rogers read a proposed employee policy change regarding the hours, although the board took no action to approve it.

Instead, Alderman Bob Grimes motioned to take money from the law enforcement sales tax to cover the cost of police department pay raises that went into effect in 2009 (totaling about $4,000 per month) for 13 full- and part-time employees.

The city has seven police officers, including the chief, and several dispatchers and reserve officers. The transfer of law enforcement tax funds to the general fund is expected to offset the shortfall.

The board unanimously approved Grimes' motion, which also was endorsed by Police Chief David Bailey.

"I'm OK with it," Bailey said Tuesday, July 12. "I don't want to do anything that's going to hurt the other departments."

Rogers said "money is tight" throughout all city departments and suggested each department cut their current operating budgets by 10 percent.

The board will review the issue at its next meeting.

In other business:

* The board approved spending $5,300 to repair the city's large bucket truck. A routine inspection revealed the truck was unsafe to use.

* The board unanimously accepted the resignation of Water Department worker Gordon Shinn.

Next meeting

The Thayer Board of Aldermen will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, at City Hall.

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