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September 5, 2013

New Albany City Council approves $745k for street department

City will test for West Nile Virus next week

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany City Council began the process of shoring up this year’s Street Department budget on Thursday.

On initial ballots, the council approved transferring about $745,000 to the street department to cover expenses. The appropriations were anticipated, as the first measure requested the council OK transferring $400,000 from the general fund to the department.

The $400,000 had already been budgeted for the department, as the administration anticipated the Motor Vehicle Fund wouldn’t cover the 2013 budget.

“This is not an additional appropriation,” said Councilman Bob Caesar, the sponsor of the measure to move the $400,000 to the MVH fund.

The council, however, did approve an additional appropriation of about $345,000 to partner with the $400,000 that had been reserved for the street department.

The council will decide on final reading — which will likely be held on Sept. 19 — whether to take the $345,000 from the Economic Development Income Tax, Rainy Day or Riverboat funds.

The MVH fund consistently is approved by the state at a level less than the $1.2 million needed for the street department to operate on a “bare bones” budget, Shane Gibson, an attorney with the city’s legal department said.

The $745,000, if approved on final readings, will get the department close to that $1.2 million figure, Gibson said.

“It’s still going to be tight probably,” Gibson said.

Earlier this week, Street Commissioner Mickey Thompson said the administration and council have been helpful in ensuring the department  is able to operate proficiently when the MVH fund doesn’t cover expenses.

Both funding measures were unanimously approved by the council, however, there were some requests to implement a different process for the department beginning next year.

“I’m hoping [for the next budget] we can take care of that and not have to do additional appropriations,” Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti said, as she wants the council to budget money to foot the street department instead of having to approve more money later.

Gibson agreed, and said the administration can work with the council to accurately fund the department at budget time instead of through additional appropriations. 

The council also approved on final reading an additional appropriation of $150,000 for the unsafe building fund. The money will be used to demolish about 20 structures in the city.

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