Arlington city employees may get modest raises

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The City Council got its first look Tuesday at next year’s proposed $406 million budget, which includes additional police field supervisors, an employee pay raise and nearly $5 million extra for street projects.

The budget calls for a 2 percent raise for sworn police officers and 1 percent for civilian employees, as well as the addition of two code compliance officers to help respond to complaints and conduct enforcement on weekends, City Manager Trey Yelverton said.

The raises, which would not take effect until January, would cost the city $1.6 million.

City administrators based the budget on a projected increase of 2.3 percent — or $1.4 million — in property taxes because commercial and residential property valuations have risen. The proposed property tax rate is unchanged: 64.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Sales taxes are also expected to rise 3 percent, with Arlington projected to bring in a record $54.2 million next fiscal year.

At the same time, revenue from natural gas leases is projected to fall 20 percent.

“It’s not quite as positive as we would like to see,” Yelverton said.

As a result, city departments were asked to scale back their operating budgets 1 percent from what they currently receive because budget planners expect expenditures to increase 1.5 percent, about $6 million, because of factors including increased water and sewer costs.

Overall, the city proposes to add 11 jobs, including the code compliance officers, a park maintenance worker and four police positions that were previously grant-funded.

The Police Department plans a one-year $483,996 pilot project to determine whether the addition of four field supervisors will help patrol officers respond faster and more efficiently to 911 calls and clear them, which would allow more time for proactive enforcement.

Yelverton said the average time officers spend on a call has increased from 55 to 70 minutes. The goal is to determine whether the additional supervisors can better manage the number of officers on a call and free them up to respond to other tasks as needed.

For streets, the proposed budget includes $4.9 million left over from previous years to complete some projects. Street maintenance is funded through a quarter-cent sales tax that raises about $13.5 million a year.

The council will begin discussing the budget at a special meeting Tuesday. Meetings to gather public input will be Aug. 20-31. The council is expected to adopt the budget Sept. 17. It takes effect Oct. 1.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock

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