Hubbard tightening its budget belt

HUBBARD —  City leaders discussed the 2007 budget and decided a few things had to change — such as high overtime spending and the way funds are set aside for buying equipment.

The city spent $303,000 in overtime during 2006; the police department was responsible for about $77,000 of that amount, officials said. The police department had been budgeted $55,000 for overtime expenses.

Several city leaders said Monday that departments have routinely overspent their budgets, with the expectation that the city will make up for overages at year’s end. City council said such practices have to stop.

Councilman Bill Williams said council has agreed to reduce all overtime spending in the city by 10 percent in 2007. Each department will be budgeted 10 percent less to cover overtime expenses than in 2006.

Council also decided not to place any funds in line items for capital improvement or new equipment purchases in 2007. Those line items will read zero dollar amounts, and department heads will have to come to council for funds when such purchases or improvements are needed.

“We are going to meet quarterly and have budget hearings to keep a better handle on these things,” Williams said. “We want to meet and make necessary changes before there is a problem.”

Council has also agreed to make certain changes to the file clerk’s position in the police department.

Several months ago, police officials asked council to make the file clerk’s position full time. Council rejected that request but has now agreed to raise the hourly pay for the position. The file clerk earned $7.75, but will now earn $8.50.

Some members of council said the file clerk was working too many hours in the past for a part-time position. The clerk will now be paid more but will have to get the work done in the allotted 25 hours per week.

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