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MERIDIAN — The city of Meridian is proposing a $129.3 million budget for the 2021 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. City Council approved the budget proposal July 21, and the public will be able to comment on it during a public hearing next month.

The proposal is higher than fiscal year 2020’s $121.6 million budget, although the city pursued fewer capital projects in 2020 compared to prior budget years.

The 2021 budget will not include an annual tax increase. During June budget workshops council members agreed to forgo an increase, a policy proposed by Mayor Robert Simison and city staff to provide property tax relief for residents. State law allows local governments to increase property taxes by up to 3% each year.

Not increasing property tax rates makes the city eligible for CARES Act funding to help pay public safety salaries for 10 months, based on Gov. Brad Little’s plan to use $200 million for this purpose, an effort to give residents property tax relief. The city is participating in the governor’s program.

Public safety salaries make up about half of Meridian’s 2021 proposed general fund expenditures. Police personnel accounts for $19.8 million while fire personnel accounts for $12.1 million. The proposed budget calls for three new police personnel, including a school resource officer, a community service officer and police records specialist, and the budget calls for a new fire inspector within the fire department.

The proposed 2021 general fund budget is $67.3 million, which includes a projected $5.2 million carried forward from 2020 for completion of projects currently underway.

General fund budget requests include:

  • Fire department ladder truck: $1.7 million
  • Acquisition and design costs for fire stations No. 7 and 8: $1.3 million
  • Pathway construction for South Slough/Finch Lateral Pathway: $665,000
  • Expansion of the Heroes Park parking lot: $800,000

The proposed 2021 enterprise fund is $57.9 million, including a projected $12.5 million carried forward from the current budget year for ongoing projects. The enterprise fund is funded by water and sewer user rates in addition to new development connection fees, and the fund supports the city’s water and wastewater operations.

Enterprise fund requests include $2.5 million for several projects to upgrade the city’s Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility. The upgrades include:

  • Two new aeration basins
  • Design and construction of a new digester and control building
  • Design and construction of a side stream recovery system
  • Hiring of additional staff
  • Water and sewer mainline extensions to improve and expand sewer delivery infrastructure

In total, the budget sets aside $17.4 million for wastewater projects. That’s compared to $4 million for water projects and $62,000 for public works.

Meridian residents can view the full budget draft at the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 33 E. Broadway Ave. To view a summary of the budget, visit bit.ly/3hLyG4T.

The city council will host a public hearing at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 at City Hall. The hearing will be livestreamed, and members of the public can participate virtually via the Zoom meeting platform. Following the public hearing council members will vote to finalize the budget.

Ryan Suppe is the Meridian reporter for the Idaho Press. Contact him at 208-465-8119. Follow him on Twitter @salsuppe.

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