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DR budget features raises

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By Bryan Marshall

The City of Dry Ridge had more money in their pockets heading into the 2014-15 budget after dealing with bone-deep cuts and dwindling reserves the past several years.
While the city’s budget has decreased or remained relatively stagnant recently, the city council’s approved budget for next fiscal year includes increases in nearly every department.
Money has also been budgeted for pay raises and two new employees, if needed.
“I think it was a fair budget,” said Mayor Clay Crupper. “I think it was fair to everybody.”
The estimated revenues in next year’s budget are $2.02 million, a $538,500 increase from when the current year’s budget was approved.
The biggest revenue source in the general fund is $1.09 million from licenses and permits, followed by $536,000 from taxes and $327,000 from charges for services.
The biggest difference?
The city council approved a .75-percent payroll tax increase in November 2013.
The increase from .5 percent to 1.25 percent began Jan. 1, 2014.
The budget includes $1.85 million in general fund appropriations – an increase of nearly $192,000 from last year.
General government ($248,000) and debt service ($31,400) are the only two departments that received the same amount of money as last year.
The rest of the departments received increases, including $122,800 more in funds for the Dry Ridge Fire Department.
Last year, the DRFD was given $988,000 in appropriations, compared to $1.11 million for the 2014-15 year.
The additional funds include $30,000 for much-needed turnout gear and $8,000 for training.
Public works received the second-biggest increase of $57,200 with $214,400 in appropriations.
The police department, which consists of a police chief, received a $8,500 increase to $241,850 for 2014-15.
Recreation received the least funds with $8,900 in appropriations, however, that still was a $3,400 increase.
“I’d like to see each department spend less than what’s budgeted,” council member Fred Money said.
“I would like to see overtime cut by 50 percent,” council member Scott Bates added.
Within the budget are pay raises for full-time and part-time employees.
Bates, Money and fellow council member Jim Hendy voted for 50-cent raises per hour for the city’s 14 full-time employees. Of those, eight full-time employees work for the fire department.
Council members Carisa Hughett, Kenny Edmondson and Sara Cummins voted against the proposal.
With a 3-3 deadlock, Mayor Crupper broke the tie with a vote in favor of the raise.
A motion for a 25-cent raise per hour for part-time employees passed 5-0 with Cummins abstaining her vote due to her husband being a part-time fire fighter with the city.
There are 24 part-time fire fighters employed by the city.
Money was also put in the budget for two potential new hires.
A full-time maintenance/water department employee, if hired, would make $15 per hour while a part-time office employee would make $12 per hour.
The positions were included in the budget to prepare for an anticipated retirement in the next couple years and the need for help in the maintenance/water department.
The approved budget includes $369,229 as the estimated fund balance at the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year.
That is a far cry from the nearly $33,000 in reserves estimated when the 2013-14 budget was approved last year.
“Last year, we raised (the property tax) 4 percent,” Crupper said. “This year, I hope we don’t have to raise it none. With that extra money, I don’t think we’ll have to.”