Copey Grantham

Grantham

SALTILLO • Saltillo residents won't see a tax increase, but employees will have more take-home pay under the $8.47 million budget aldermen approved Tuesday.

The city is giving every employee a small raise and has increased the minimum pay for the police department to help recruit and retain new officers.

Mayor Copey Grantham said employees making more than $50,000 per year will get a 1% cost of living raise. Employees making less than $50,000 will see a 2% raise. He said the split rates would prevent some employees from getting a much larger raise than their lower-paid coworkers.

"We also raised the starting salary for a police patrolman to $16 an hour," Grantham said. "We wanted to keep that figure ahead of Lee County."

According to the mayor's numbers, the city will still offer better pay than the sheriff offers starting road deputies.

The new budget is almost $1 million more than last year's proposed budget, but the bulk of that change is $622,000 in federal stimulus money. Those funds will be used to install automatic reading water meters and upgrade the water supply on the east side of town.

Officials expect slight increases in tax revenues — sales, property and car — to handle the other increases in a fairly lean budget. Most of the city departments have budgets similar to last year. The notable difference is the zoning department with an increase of nearly 80%.

The creation of a full-time code enforcement officer caused the department's budget to jump from around $84,000 last fall to just more than $150,000 this year. The bulk of the expenses is salaries for the now two-person department.

Saltillo's tax levy will remain at 27 mills. Of that amount, 23.6 mills go to the general fund. Another 2 mills go toward fire protection and the final 1.4 mills finance the city's general obligation bonds.

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