Wednesday, December 20, 2000

City considers $50M budget


Utility rates to rise

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Telephone service and road repairs constitute the biggest chunk of new spending in the city's $50 million proposed budget for 2001.

        The budget also would add 13 employees, including a director of services to supervise about a half-dozen departments.

        But perhaps most immediately noticeable to residents: Automatic rate increases for water, sewer and electric services kick in Jan. 1.

IF YOU GO
    What: Council meeting
    When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
    Where: City building, 50 S. Broadway.
        “This year is the crunch year, but we'll have to revisit them next year,” said Councilman Mark Flick, noting that City Council promised the increases would be reviewed each year to make sure they're necessary.

        Water rates will increase 4 percent, sewer 6.5 percent and electric 2 percent, City Auditor Greg Dixon said.

        The proposed budget — recommended Monday by council's finance committee — will get its first hearing at a special council meeting Thursday. A final vote will be taken Dec. 28.

        The plan includes $1.1 million to add telephone service to the city-owned telecommunications network. The city has been eager to add phone service in hopes of recouping its $8.2 million investment in the network. For residents, it would mean an end to long-distance charges for calls to Cincinnati and Dayton, city officials have said.

        Two new employees are included in the computer department's budget in case the city decides to run its own Internet service, which local company Go Concepts now runs on the city's behalf.

        Planned roadwork includes the Main Street reconstruction — which has not been made final with the state — and a connector from U.S. 42 to Mason-Morrow-Millgrove Road for industrial traffic. Improvements are proposed on South, Cherry and Sycamore streets; Sycamore and Cincinnati Avenue; and Mechanic Street.

        The city is planning to spend $400,000 on repairs to the city building — in addition to the $200,000 budgeted in 2000 — and $520,000 to buy computers, link the city's computer systems and upgrade software.

        Lebanon's budget has doubled in the past decade along with its population. The city's debt, however, has more than quadrupled, to $40.5 million, in large part because of the city-owned telecom and electric utilities.

       



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