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Piedmont City Council Approves New Budget

A new budget was passed by the Piedmont City Council on Tuesday for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The budget, which retroactively began on October 1st, will include a step raise for city employees and will cover the full cost of employee’s health insurance, including the upcoming rate increases.

City officials project that after paying bills, about $480,000 will be left over in the General Fund, which will be used to cover the raises and health insurance increases. Employees should expect to see a 3 percent raise for each year of employment with the city, following a positive evaluation.

While the budget was passed with an overwhelming 6 to 1 margin, there were still some reservations concerning the additional costs.

Following the vote, Council Member Mark Harper, who voted for the budget, asked those in attendance, “how many in here know what it’s gonna cost the city next year?” He added that the city will absorb $752,000 of the $956,000 in employee insurance costs.

Council Member Frank Cobb said, “If I had voted the way my heart felt, I would have voted no,” adding, “The reason I didn’t vote no was because I don’t want people to be mad at me.”

Council Member Brenda Spear was the only council member to vote against the measure.

Local resident, Terry Studdard, addressed the council, asking to be de-annexed from the city. Studdard contended that prior to being annexed about 25 years ago, he was told by city officials that he would be able to keep livestock on the property, although nothing was put into writing.

Apparently, Studdard is now seeking to leave the city, because he has learned that he may be unable to keep hogs on the property. The council denied his request, acting on the advice of the city attorney.

In other business, the council, at the request of Police Chief Freddie Norton, voted to hire an additional police officer to help alleviate the understaffed department, which currently sees over 80 hours of overtime by current officers.

Mayor Baker informed the council that the city will soon begin work on a driving range at the city’s sports complex. Baker said the city was able to acquire about $10,000 worth of the necessary equipment for only about $700.

Bills for payment were approved in the amount of $195,326.06 in addition to a payroll amount of $114,644.50 for a total of $309,970.56.

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