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Council to view budget proposal

City Council will get its first look at the proposed 1995-96 city budget and the nearly 8-percent tax rate increase to finance that budget during a 5:30 p.m. workshop today.

Later tonight, during its regular meeting, the council will hear about a study of water and sewer rates. City officials have said increases may be needed in those utilities' rates to keep up with continually rising costs.

The general fund budget being proposed raises the current 6.5 mill tax rate to 7 mills _ the same as the rate two years ago. Last year the council pushed to reduce the rate to give city residents a break in a year when the property appraiser's office increased many property values.

A mill is $1 in tax for every $1,000 in appraised taxable property value. The proposed increase would mean that the owner of a house valued at $50,000 with the $25,000 homestead exemption would pay a city tax bill of $175, an increase of $12.50 over last year.

City financial advisers have told the council that its cash reserve _ the fund that pays for emergency items _ has never recovered from the March 1993 storm that wiped out the city's Fire Department fleet.

City Manager Roger Krieger said last week that his budget proposal will not add to that reserve.

The proposed budget also includes few capital expenses, 3.5 percent cost-of-living raises for city employees, the addition of a city engineer paid for out of the general fund and the water and sewer fund and the construction of public restrooms at Little Springs Park.

Overall, last year's roughly $3-million general fund budget would be increased by about $200,000. Half of that would come from the tax increase. The rest would come from increases in property values and transfers out of the city's capital improvement fund.

Public hearings will be held later this summer. Final budget approval is planned for September.

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