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Council set to adopt budget

Suffolk City Council is expected to vote on the proposed $639.4 million budget at its upcoming meeting Wednesday.

The budget keeps real estate taxes at the same level, fully funds the school division’s request and provides a 2.5-percent raise to city employees.

The fiscal year 2020 budget leaves unchanged the real estate tax of $1.11 per $100 of assessed value, though it projects general fund revenue to increase by $5.8 million — from $213.2 million to $219 million.

But because reassessment values went up by 1.17 percent, City Council has to hold a public hearing for an “effective tax rate increase,” which state law requires if reassessments increase by more than 1 percent, according to Finance Director Tealen Hansen. That public hearing is also scheduled for Wednesday meeting, prior to the vote on the budget.

The proposed budget has an additional $3.6 million in general fund money for personnel and benefits to provide for city employees’ cost-of-living adjustment, and it would pay for 24 new general fund positions, which include 13 new police officer/emergency communications positions. It would also address part-time and overtime requirements for public safety.

The school division’s $173.3 million budget, which the School Board approved March 19, includes a request for a $1 million increase in city funding, from $59.8 million to $60.8 million.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson and other members of council have said this has been a smooth budget process.

The council will also receive a downtown plan update from the Department of Planning and Community Development during its work session.

The work session begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, and its regular meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers at 442 W. Washington St.