Wednesday, January 24, 2007

TOP STORY >>Austin council passes budget

Leader staff writer

The Austin City Council approved the city’s $314,550 budget for 2007 Monday night, which Mayor Bernie Chamberlain said was just a “guestimate” right now and amounts could be changed later. The budget includes a 5 percent pay raise for city employees, except for police officers. The police officers were given a raise of about 40 cents. Pay rates for the lowest-paid officers went from $7.50 an hour to $8.50 an hour; that will also be the starting pay for any new officers.

The highest-paid officer will now make $10 an hour. Austin’s water and sewer in-spectors will also receive an additional 35 cents per license on top of the 5 percent raise. The city’s expenses, including all salaries and insurance, are estimated to be $303,500. A motion was also passed to allow the police department to make two full-time officer slots available. The Austin Fire Department was presented a resolution from the city of Cabot and Cabot Fire Chief Phil Robinson for their assistance in battling the Aug. 10 fire that destroyed Cabot Junior High North.

Trying to function without a city recorder and treasurer is a tough job, just ask Mayor Chamberlain. She’s had four and the position is currently vacant. “One was never sworn in…too many,” Chamberlain told the city council during Monday night’s meeting. Alderman Laurel Carnes served as recorder during the meeting. The council was in agreement that a recorder/treasurer was needed and approved splitting the responsibilities between two people – a recorder/treasurer and an hourly bookkeeper.

The recorder/treasurer, who must live in Austin, will have to attend all council meetings, sign the city checks and supervise the bookkeeping and will work no more than 10 hours each month and be paid $100 a month. The bookkeeper, who does not have to be an Austin resident, will work a maximum of 30 hours a week at $8 per hour; the hours will be cut back once the city’s books are up-to-date.