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Nobody came

Public silent on city’s budget

NORTH LIBERTY– Apparently, North Liberty residents are completely satisfied with the way the city proposes to spend their money.
The North Liberty City Council offered a special agenda item last Tuesday, Feb. 12, to allow the public to ask questions and offer input on the city’s proposed 2014 fiscal year budget.
Nobody came.
Council member Gerry Kuhl did say he had received emails from individuals “about our supposed deficiencies,” Kuhl reported to the council. “I emailed them back to say there is a session tonight that you can come and talk, and reminded them that the official public hearing was two weeks from tonight. So if (you) couldn’t come tonight, please come and let us know what those concerns are, because we can’t act unless we know what the concerns are.”
City Administrator Ryan Heiar noted that the budget had been discussed in several open meetings prior to last week as well.
“(The council has) spent about eight hours discussing the FY14 budget. In addition, staff has put together their requests and proposals,” said Heiar. “There has been a tremendous amount of time spent, but this would be a good opportunity to ask questions.”
Nobody did.
Heiar also reminded the public that offering the public input session was above and beyond the state required public hearing, which is scheduled for Feb. 26 at the council’s regular meeting.
Council member Brian Wayson commended Heiar and the city staff for the work they put into the budget process.
“Looking at other city budgets, I think our (staff) does a good job of projecting our revenues and expenditures,” Wayson said. “The process is getting better all the time, the numbers are getting more refined and I think that is really helpful for the city.”
Based on the public turnout, nobody disagrees.

City employees salaries
While the council budget includes 2014 personnel expenses, the official salary resolution won’t be passed until the May or June, after employee evaluations are completed.
However, the North Liberty City Council did go into closed session Jan. 29 to discuss wages and benefits. City Administrator Ryan Heiar said the council generally agreed to give employees a two percent cost of living increase to all employees except for police department personnel, as they are a unionized group and their wages will be discussed during upcoming arbitration.
Heiar also said the city will continue to use its stepped wage scale to provide increases to employees based on their length of employment, and performance-based merit pay to give increases to those employees who demonstrate exceptional work qualities.
While the city saw a 25 percent increase in health care premiums for 2012, Heiar said there were no changes in employee health benefits, but Wellmark’s premiums will go up by six percent overall.
The city’s 2013 salary resolution, which shows employee wages through June 30 of this year, was approved June 2012. Administrators and department head employees currently receive the following rates of pay: