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Special meeting called to pass budget

The Richmond City Council had a balanced budget until the water rate increase was defeated.
Now the council will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday at city hall to work out the budget and vote on approval.
With the vote for the water rate increase failing, the city must now find a way to trim more than $70,000 out of the water fund.
The rest of the budget is balanced, although some council members including Tom Williams and Melissa Miller still want to look at other areas of the budget for trimming.
The city is required by state statute to finalize a budget before the end of the city’s fiscal year, which ends next Tuesday.
Some residents have concerns with other areas of the budget as well.
Former Mayor Ed Lee Swafford said that more than $2.5 million dollars of the city’s budget is spent on salaries and benefits, however the city does not have a street department. Swafford said street department workers were laid off last year while other departments saw increases in staff.
“I don’t think very many people realize we don’t have a street department,” Swafford said. “We don’t have people dedicated to go out there and fill pot holes. They do that as public works has time to do it.”
Swafford said in the past when he was on the council, the city had a street department and money was spent on overlay projects.
“I can’t understand how we could spend that kind of money four or five years ago and now then we say we don’t have enough money to overlay outside the 1/2 cent sales tax,” he said. “It’s beyond my comprehension. Instead of raising fees we need to talk about slimming down some expenses. How much more can we stand?”

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