News and Tribune

Business/Money

October 31, 2012

Council approves New Albany’s 2013 budget

Bicentennial funding also gets OK after being reduced

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany City Council approved the more than $20 million general fund budget for 2013 by a 6-2 vote Monday.

Included in the budget is  a 2 percent pay raise for most city employees and the shifting of $600,000 in 911 dispatch costs to the Economic Development Income Tax account.

Those changes in the budget from 2012 to 2013 were the primary reasons Councilman Bob Caesar said he voted against the financial plan.

The pay raises are primarily for non bargaining employees, who haven’t received a salary increase in four years though some have garnered one-time bonuses in the past.

Police and fire departments aren’t included in the pay increases, but public safety workers receive an annual 1 percent longevity raise through their union contracts with the city.

Caesar said he disagreed with the flat pay raise structure.

“I really believe that they all deserve it, but I think it would have been much better to have given the raises based on job performance,” he said Tuesday.

Caesar said moving the 911 budget to the EDIT account and away from the general fund could cost the city money in the future.

He said cities aren’t required to have a 911 center, only the county is, and that the state could ultimately remove funds it allots to New Albany for emergency dispatch if the funds aren’t used for the service.

Shane Gibson, an attorney for Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration, said in September the state was considering automatically deducting 911 funding amounts from local property tax revenue to foot the operation.

The move could reduce the city’s levy increase because New Albany’s total revenue would be lowered.

Caesar said he still supports merging the city and county dispatch centers — a move which failed to pass the council last year. Gahan voted against the merger as a member of that council.

Caesar said he would sponsor another ordinance to combine the city and county 911 operations, but doesn’t believe there’s enough support on the council.

Council President Diane McCartin-Benedetti was the other member to vote against the budget. Attempts to reach her for comment were unsuccessful as of press time Tuesday.

Councilman Kevin Zurschmiede was absent from Monday’s meeting.

The budget has been praised by other members of the council including Councilman Dan Coffey. The four-term councilman recently labeled the 2013 budget “the best” he’s been presented with since being elected.

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