Magee leadership opts out of 2% raise

The initial budget proposal for the City of Magee drew changes from the aldermen at their recent budget workshops.

One of the proposed recommendations was for a 2 percent pay raise for city leadership.  The mayor and the city clerk opted out of the raise. Alderman Whitney Baker told the board she did not need the raise, and other aldermen followed suit. 

The mayor’s rate of pay will remain at $71,226 per year.  Total pay for the five aldermen as a board is $71,720, or  $14,344 per alderman, in addition to benefits, which include health insurance and other benefits. 

The proposed raise for city employees will be 1 percent. 

The first draft of the  budget review reduced the funding to the Magee Chamber of Commerce to $5,000 from a requested $12,000.  The Chamber was funded $10,000 in the 2019 budget.  Alderman Baker suggested funding at the same level for 2020 and asked the board to again fund the Chamber at $10,000. 

Because all of the funds have not come in to cover it, the cost of the new firetruck has run the city  short on projected funds by $136,000. A large part of the deficiency was due to the failure of an expected sale of one piece of equipment whose sale proceeds were part of the city’s projected income. 

Additionally, the fire department is having to replace 12 air packs and  24 bottles that have to be replaced as breathing apparatuses.  The board had anticipated that this purchase would occur next year, but the equipment has expired so the budget allows for half of the proposed replacements.  The cost of this budget item is $85,000. These items will be obtained through a lease purchase agreement. 

Funding for the Police Department’s new radio system was reduced by half to $40,000 from the projected $80,000 cost. 

The city is also not funding two positions for DUI officers who have been  funded through a federal grant.  The city did not get the funds for these slots for 2020.  However, one officer is retiring, and the department is considering not rehiring for another slot so no terminations will be required.  The current DUI officers will serve in other positions in the department. 

The initial budget request had no scheduled paving projects for the 2020 budget year.  Again, Alderman Baker objected, saying that Main Avenue needed to be repaved.  It had been bumped from paving from previous budgets.  The cost to mill the road and repave is estimated at $100,000.  The board expressed concern as to whether it was appropriate to do this during an election year. 

This year the board employed the services of Charles Prince CPA firm of Magee to assist with the budget process.  Brett Duncan of that firm spoke to the board about expenditures versus revenue. 

Expenditures for the current year exceeded revenues by almost  $200,000.  The excess spending did not create an issue because the board has an excess of almost $1.2 million at this point.  However, Duncan encouraged the board not to spend more than actual revenues during a budget year and only use the remaining $1 million on capital improvements. 

The board asked Duncan to rework the budget to include the purchase of a new garbage truck for $150,000.  He was also asked  to include the option of leasing a new grapple truck for the Solid Waste Department at a cost of $120,000.  

The city is budgeting for $250,000 in lagoon improvements to be done through a grant from the state.

The funding for some of the improvements for the splash pad at the ball complex are being shifted from the city’s general budget to the Parks and Recreation Department. 

Alderman Patrick Brown also instructed Duncan to budget $15,000 for improvements to the Washington Street Park. 

In addition the board is having to budget for accounting software upgrades in the amount of $25,200. 

The figures presented here are not finalized numbers and will not be so until the board approves the final budget later this month