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December 19. 2013 8:58PM

Lebanon approves $51.2 M budget

LEBANON — City Council members voted to trim the 2014 budget by $880,000 before approving it Wednesday night.

The 2014 capital budget was initially proposed as $52 million by City Manager Greg Lewis, but was approved at $51.2 million by councilors, reducing the municipal portion of the tax rate from a proposed 3.5 percent increase to a 2.9 percent increase.

The majority of the cut came from City Council members' decision to defer the first phase or "level one" City Hall renovation budgeted at $790,000 and would have updated the planning and zoning office.

A second phase or "level two" project Lewis is proposing in 2015 would update the public and customer-service floor of City Hall.

Combined, both phases represent a $2.7 million renovation of City Hall.
Because the first phase of the City Hall renovation has been deferred it cannot be proposed again till the 2015 budget, Lewis said Thursday.

The majority — about $5 million — of the $6 million increase in the city budget stems from a federally mandated waste water project, Lewis said before the Wednesday budget hearing.

City Council members felt the renovation project should be deferred till after the total cost of the storm damage caused by heavy rains this summer was known, he said.

"This was an unknown quantity," Lewis said. "They thought they would defer the City Hall renovation because of the damage they were exposed to because of the storm."

Council members additionally cut $101,000 from the general fund. Lewis said he was working Thursday to find where those cuts can be made.

He said legal services, employee training and development and human services were likely line items where the cuts would be made.

Council members made the additional cut to lessen the tax increase, Lewis said.

"Still an increase, but an increase that they felt was more appropriate. They felt it was too high at 3.5. They felt they needed to make that reduction so they did," Lewis said.


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