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City budget discussed

Mayor Bob Freeman walked the Van Buren City Council through the 2014 budget Monday night during a special meeting at the Municipal Complex.

The proposed budget of $12,436,350 in revenue and $12,071,299 in expenses for a $365,051 carryover will be voted on at the Dec. 16 council meeting.

“It looks good to me,” Alderman Johnny Ragsdale said. “The mayor and his staff are to be commended for a job well-done.”

The proposed budget includes $94,355 for the city attorney; $718,625 for city administration; $3,988,180 for police; $3,412,050 for fire; $1,043,850 for district court; $68,000 for library; $9,500 for the Senior Inn; $4,500 for the Old Town Merchants Association; $130,066 for the building department; $137,266 for the planning department; $1,950 for levee maintenance; $256,856 for parks and recreation; $284,925 for property maintenance; $167,376 for yard waste; $3,800 for cemetery maintenance; and $1,750,000 in capital improvements.

It includes a 1.5 percent cost-of-living raise for city employees and a $500 pay increase for part-time City Attorney Candice Settle.

“We are hitting our year-to-date actual projections, and are coming out in the black,” Freeman said. “We are on track with our projected revenues and feel very comfortable with what we’ve got.”

The 2014 budget proposes the city take over the operation of the Van Buren Yard Waste Facility from Municipal Utilities.

“We want to try to make a better compost product to keep the facility alive and going,” Freeman said. “We can do it without making a huge investment with the 2014 budget.”

He said the city would take a huge step backward if the facility is closed.

“If we don’t keep it up the yard waste is going to wind up in the streets and the storm systems,” Freeman said.

He also told the council the city has applied for a $250,000 municipal aid grant to pave portions of 28th Street from the Rhodes Chevrolet dealership to Kibler Road and from the railroad tracks to Arkansas 59.

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