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Bryan budget cuts out raises

By ETHAN BUTTERFIELD

Eagle Staff Writer

Bryan City Manager Mary Kaye Moore on Tuesday said employees will not receive a raise in the upcoming fiscal year’s proposed budget, a factor she blames on budget constraints.

An exception to the salary proposal includes police officers and fire personnel who are still scheduled to receive step pay increases called for in their respective pay schedules, Moore said.

Those pay hikes come after a certain number of years of service and are not merit-based.

Last year, all city employees received merit-based raises that averaged 3 percent. Police and fire personnel each were given 3 percent pay increases on top of any step increases they also received, Moore said.

Mayor Pro Tem Paul Madison, who filled in for Mayor Jay Don Watson Tuesday, said Bryan is facing a budget crunch due to lower revenues.

“The city of Bryan is having the same problem that you see industry having and you see other organizations having,” Madison said. “The good thing is we’re able to maintain staff at the present level. We will not have any cuts.”

City officials said they don’t expect to raise taxes to fund the upcoming budget.

City Financial Officer Joel Welch presented the proposed budget Tuesday. Welch outlined that the city expects to bring in $38 million in revenues to its general fund in 2004, and expects to spend $35 million.

The bulk of the city’s revenue will come from sales and property taxes. Bryan is budgeting for $9.4 million in property taxes for 2004, an increase of $128,000 from 2003.

But with the economy still in turmoil, and the 2003 sales tax numbers not meeting expectations, the city is estimating a 3 percent decrease in sales tax revenues to $9.6 million from 2003 to 2004, Welch said.

The council will see more of its proposed 2003-04 budget at its July 22 workshop.

A final version of the budget will come back to the City Council for approval in September, chief financial officer Kathy Davidson said.

In other action, the City Council:

n Approved the annexation of Coulter Field.

The 247-acre airport is owned by the city, but had not previously been brought into the city limits. The move will allow the city to tax some business aircraft kept at Coulter Field, adding roughly $3,800 a year to its income.

By rule, the City Council must approve all ordinances twice. They held a special meeting July 1 and voted for the annexation for the first time.

n Approved increasing the maximum fee for all nonconsent tows done by wrecker services. The move brings Bryan in line with the regulations College Station’s City Council approved in April.

The regulations set the maximum for a non-consent tow — usually after an accident where the driver is taken to the hospital or is not able to give consent —  at $100. A tow company may charge an additional $100 on such tows if their standby time exceeds two hours.

n Approved an extra $40,000 in funding to pay for the design of both stages of the Henderson Park Renovation plan. Council later will be asked to fund construction of the project.

The project is currently budgeted, and funded at $1.9 million. Adding the second phase construction would bring the project up to $2.6 million, and would require additional funding.

The renovations include adding several baseball fields, soccer fields, a swimming pool, covered basketball court, concession stand, skate park and a half-mile of walking trails.

• Ethan Butterfield’s e-mail address is ebutterfield@theeagle.com.

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