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Council sees $11.5M budget for 2014

Members of the Cabot City Council Budget and Personnel Committee voted Monday during the monthly agenda meeting to recommend the proposed $11.5 million 2014 city budget for consideration at the Dec. 16 city council meeting.

The meeting, which includes the Public Works and Police and Fire committees, sets the agenda for the upcoming city council meeting. The budget has to be voted upon in the regular meeting, but all the council members except Kevin Davis were present to discuss the proposed budget.

Aldermen Ed Long, Ann Gilliam, Ryan Flynn, Dallan Buchanan, Angie Jones, Jon Moore and Rick Prentice attended the meeting.

Mayor Bill Cypert also attended to remark on the proposed budget.

The budget estimates the city will take in $11 million in revenue for 2014. Combined with the expected 2013 end-of-year balance, makes a general fund balance of about $11.8 million.

Total estimated expenditure for 2014 is $11.5 million.

Cypert said the national economy for the coming year is expected to be “flat.”

While there are indications of the economy being in “recovery mode,” it will be a “challenging” year, Cypert said. Considering that, the revenue forecast was kept stable, not expecting an increase.

In a point sheet in the budget package, healthcare, division in Washington, and national debt were listed as creating uncertainty for all sectors.

“Locally, I think Cabot … and the north end of the county have a lot to look forward to,” Cypert said.

A point sheet outlined key points of the proposed budget. Those include a two percent salary increase for all employees with no health insurance increase and “minimal” increases in dental and vision coverage.

It includes street overlay, excavating, and repair projects to begin in 2014, with sidewalks mainly in the StreetScape Project. The sidewalks would be from Ninth Street west, past Tenth Street.

It is expected that the Magness Creek Safe Routes to School Project, adding a sidewalk to the Magness Creek Elementary School, would be done for the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.

Cypert noted that the two Lincoln Street roundabouts would also be built in 2014. The roundabouts are being built in a partnership with Cabot School District.

The city hall parking lot would be extended to Pine Street, with improvements to support local events.

There is also provision to extend Elm Street to Eighth Street, Cypert said.

Planned ditch improvements are along Campground Road to Arkansas Highway 89, an area with two commercial developments under way.

In other remarks, Gilliam spoke of concern that the salaries of the police and fire chiefs eclipsed the mayor’s salary.

The 2013 salary for the chief of police is $94,993; the fire chief is $85,744. The mayor’s salary is $86,944 with no increase noted for 2014.

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