Columbus approves budget for fiscal year 2012-2013Published 6:30pm Thursday, June 28, 2012
One member against 4 percent employee raise
Columbus has a new budget that includes a one-cent tax increase for the fire department and a four-percent employee salary increase.
Columbus Town Council met Thursday, June 21 and approved the budget by a 3-1 vote. Councilwoman Ernie Kan voted against the budget, saying she objects to the four-percent employee increase.
“I still feel (the increase) should be two percent,” Kan said.
Other council members said they feel that the employees have saved the town tremendous money in the work they do in-house and that Columbus can afford it because it saved approximately $90,000 in fiscal year 2010-2011 and more than $40,000 is planned for savings out of this year’s general fund.
Council members have also said the cost of living has increased significantly over the past several years and Columbus employees have not received a salary increase in four years. Columbus has given bonuses during the years without increases.
The property tax rate for Columbus residents will increase from 39 cents per $100 of property valuation to 40 cents. The increase will allow the fire department to hire three employees to staff the department full-time. Currently the fire department has a paid chief who works first shift Monday through Friday, but with the three new employees the department can be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved the tax increase for the Columbus Fire Department. The county is charged with setting tax rates for all departments because county residents are served by the fire departments.
The town’s general fund budget was approved at $924,445 and its water/sewer fund at $1,097,800, including the salary increases. The salary increases cost the town approximately $27,000.
Columbus’ new budget year begins Sunday, July 1.