City council prepares $252M budget

The Richland City Council is preparing to adopt a $252 million proposed 2011 city budget that includes a few new initiatives.

The $55.3 million general fund budget is up 2.4 percent over 2010, mostly because of rising costs for employee benefits.

City officials did not include a property tax increase in the 2011 budget.

The budget includes $565,000 in expanded programs. Some highlights:

-- $35,000 to expand hours for an evidence technician and code enforcement officer in the police department;

-- $239,000 for GPS and monitoring software and hardware for garbage collection trucks, $75,000 to purchase software licenses for the Finance Department and $20,000 for software upgrades for Energy Services;

-- $20,000 to pay a labor relations consultant to help negotiate six collective bargaining agreements;

-- $27,000 to upgrade irrigation controllers in the parks to a computerized central system;

-- $8,000 to add Sunday hours at the Richland Public Library and $11,000 for a part-time person to shelve materials;

-- $30,000 to pay a consultant for a water rate study;

-- $75,000 for two full-time drivers for solid waste collections.

No public testimony was offered at a public hearing Tuesday night. The council is scheduled to adopt the budget on Dec. 7.