New city budget

 The budget for the city of New Albany for the next fiscal year was adopted Monday night, and generally we think the Board of Aldermen did a decent job with the numbers in what will be a tough revenue year.

The city’s general operating budget is $5.2 million, down about $29,000 from what the city expects to spend this year.

By whittling away a little bit in a variety of expense categories, the board was still able to include a needed 1.5 percent pay raise for rank-and-file city employees. 

Excluded from raises were the mayor, the board of aldermen, city judges and prosecutor, the city clerk and the city attorney.

And the board began the much-needed process of reining in the cost of its legal services. The city budgeted $37,582 for the city attorney’s salary and another $50,000 for legal fees, down $35,000 from what was budgeted this year.

We would like to see a strong effort next year to reduce the total cost of salary and fees for the city attorney to no more than the salary of the mayor, about $66,000.

We do not quarrel with the work or competence of the current city attorney, but we think the cost is out of sync with other communities and with the city’s needs.

Going forward, we also think it would be helpful if the proposed budget were available to citizens earlier in the process. 

That would permit both the public and various government departments and agencies to have a clearer understanding of what is, or is not, included.

All in all though, we think the Board of Alderman, handicapped by having two of its members absent because of travel and illness, adopted a tight budget Monday night that will meet the city’s needs in a lean year.  

About Chris Elkins

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