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Council considers cutting expenses

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Aug. 17, 2001
Meridian City Councilmen began quizzing departments heads Thursday about cutting expenses, including not letting employees drive city vehicles home at night.
They said any money saved could be used to help give city workers a pay raise.
Councilmen met with department heads all morning Thursday, asking if they could run their departments with money earmarked in a proposed budget for the 2002 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
Councilmen also wanted to know where department heads could cut corners.
The meeting came as the council continued to work on next year's budget. Mayor John Robert Smith's proposed budget would raise property taxes 5 percent, but include no raises for city workers.
Police want a raise
During the meeting, Council President George Thomas asked Acting Police Chief Benny DuBose how his employees feel about the possibility they may not receive a raise.
DuBose said that police officers use cost-of-living raises to offset rising insurance expenses. So without another raise, he said, they feel their pay has been decreased.
Councilmen said they are considering saving money by stopping employees from taking city vehicles home.
Thomas said that letting law officers take patrol cars home began as a way to make the police more visible in neighborhoods. But he said he hasn't seen that it makes a big difference.
Workers could oppose plan
Henson said that, according to answers given by department heads, city employees may not be happy if they can't drive city vehicles home. She said the council could set a citywide policy or decide the issue on a car-by-car basis.
Additional savings could come from cutting vacation and paid-time-off for people who have not completed a year of work with the city. Henson said some employees have 30 days off before they've been here a year.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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