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Murphysboro balances 2018 budget, even with back pay owed police

 
By Chanda Green
Contributing writer
Posted on 12/27/2017, 1:00 AM

The Murphysboro City Council approved a budget for the 2018 fiscal year that anticipates about $5 million in revenue for the city's general fund and almost the same figure for expenditures, leaving the fund just barely in the black, with a $2,262 surplus.

But just before the council took the vote, Alderman W.J. Pittman brought up a large line item that didn't make it into the budget document, an estimated $60,000 back-pay bill, due to employees of the police department, because of a 2 percent raise in their current contract.

That contract was only recently signed and approved, after more than six months of negotiations and procedural delays. But the raise was effective in May, when the old contract with the Fraternal Order of Police ended and the new one, with the Teamsters, should have begun.

"It really took six months for the police department to transition from being represented by the FOP to the Teamsters," said Mayor Will Stephens.

"We put a lot of effort into crafting a budget, and as council members, we are aware of the $60,000 bill," he said. "We know that it is going to hit during next year's budget, and we know that it's not on the budget document we have prepared.

"In my opinion, we look at next year's sales tax receipts and if we have to make some hard decisions midyear, we will make those decisions."

Alderman Don Bratton agreed with the mayor, calling the city budget, "just a guideline," and reiterating the restrictions the city must observe during its annual budget process, including deadlines set by law.

Mayor Stephens pointed out that the Murphysboro Police Department will end this fiscal year about $80,000 in the black, a surplus that can more than cover the back-pay owed.

The largest expenditures listed for the city are the police department at $1,403,916, city administration at $754,300, and the fire department at $730,077.

The second largest city fund, Water and Sewer, has a budget that lists $3,549,284 in revenues and $3,548,434 in expenditures, leaving an $850 surplus.

The council voted to approve the 2018 budget unanimously.