WASHINGTON CITY – In its last meeting of the year, the Washington City Council approved the city’s first New Year’s Eve fireworks show, passed a motion for city employee pay increases and the hiring of new staff in the coming year, and bid farewell to outgoing Councilman Bill Hudson.
As a part of the New Year’s Eve Family Fest being held at the Washington City Community Center Dec. 31, the center asked the City Council to approve a fireworks show. The fireworks would be launched from the ball fields by the community center and last for an estimated 10 minutes. The event is also privately funded.
City Manager Roger Carter noted it would be the first time a large-scale fireworks display had been held in the city for New Year’s. Typically the city has only hosted big fireworks displays on Independence Day and Pioneer Day.
“It’ll be a good year,” Councilman Jeff Turek said. “We’re going to start the year off with fireworks.”
There was a concern about the neighborhoods surrounding the community center, however. Councilman Hudson noted that, as this would be the first New Year’s fireworks show, some of the neighbors may be taken by surprise and be none-too-pleased.
“I’ll feel bad if it goes off and people don’t know about it,” Hudson said.
The council approved the fireworks in a 4-1 vote, with the provision that neighborhoods by the community center be duly notified beforehand.
“It’s going to be fabulous,” Carter said of the fireworks.
Projected surplus, pay adjusted and new hires
Councilmen Kress Staheli and Turek said they had gone over the current 2013-14 budget and projected a surplus of $719,000 in the general fund. For the 2014-15 budget, they projected that the surplus will be an estimated $825,000.
Turek and Staheli said they believed the numbers they had gone through were very conservative, and that based upon them, the city would be able to hire new staff and also give raises to city employees who had been caught in a pay-freeze since 2009.
“We are the only (city) that did not give our employees increases,” Turek said, noting that other cities in the county, and recently the county itself, had provided raises for its employees.
The meat of the pay adjustments, Staheli said, will go towards employees in lower pay-grades and part-time positions, such as firefighters and others. Some of them have been stuck at 80 percent of their pay level and will now be able to work toward 100 percent of their pay grade depending on the number of years they have served and favorable performance reviews.
Councilman Ron Truman voiced some reservations about the increases. He wanted to make sure the money would actually be available and the city wouldn’t be in a bind.
“We did our very best with the numbers,” Carter said, “our very best to keep the numbers accurate and honest.”
Among the new hires the city is considering for the coming year are two year police officers and a community development inspector. They are also a mix of part- and full-time staff. The pay increases and new hires are projected to cost around $371,000.
A motion to approve the pay increases and new hires based on the projected budget surplus passed unanimously.
A breakdown of the projected surplus, pay adjustments and new personnel to be hired can be found here, courtesy of Washington City.
Farewell to Hudson
Thursday night’s meeting was the last one for Hudson as a city councilman. With the new year he will be replaced by Councilman-elect Garth Nisson. Hudson had to leave the meeting early due to other obligations but was stopped by Staheli who personally thanked him for his time and service as a councilman.
“It’s been an honor,” Staheli said, and thanked Hudson for taking him under this wing while still a newly-elected councilman. “I appreciate the way you always vote with you conscience and mind.”
Carter also thanked Hudson on behalf of the city staff for his guidance and leadership.
Mayor Ken Neilson, who also had to leave part way through the meeting, expressed his gratitude for Hudson’s service and wished him well in the coming new year.
- Aquatic Director Ben Ray was recognized as the city’s Employee of the Year.
- The city’s Information Technology Department was named the Department of the Year.
- The council approved to keep the current meeting schedule through 2014 – every second and fourth Tuesday and Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m.
- Turek was named Mayor pro-tem for another year.
- The council approved the annexation of 29 acres from School Institutional Trust Lands, located at approximately 1400 West and 1900 North. Staheli said future plans for development are being discussed.
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