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Jennings: More firefighters

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City employees will receive a 2 percent raise next year and more firefighters will be hired, according to North Vernon’s 2014 budget, which awaits final approval.

The $3.2 million general fund budget also provides departments with sufficient funding to handle unexpected expenses, said North Vernon Mayor Harold “Soup” Campbell.

Campbell said his administration has been working to provide funding for additional firefighters for the past few years.

“That’s starting to become a weak link, because we haven’t had much in the way of manpower,” Campbell said. “(More firefighters) will also mean better insurance rates and make us all feel safer.”

A final vote on the budget, which reflects a 3 percent spending increase from last year, is expected when the City Council meets Tuesday.

North Vernon has 13 additional funds that, combined with the general fund, will amount to more than $7.4 million in spending.

One of the additional funds is waterworks improvement, which intends to spend almost $2.5 million next year, a 789 percent increase over this year. The largest expense will be a $1.6 million ultraviolet water purification system to disinfect tap water obtained from the Muscatatuck River, Water Department Director Mike Hess said.

The North Vernon Redevelopment Commission is seeking approval for a nearly $2.2 million budget, reflecting a 585 percent increase. Commission president Chris Ertel said there are currently no finalized plans to spend that money.

Ertel explained that the city expects to receive $2.1 million dollars in revenue from a 1,585-acre tax-increment financing district. By placing those funds in next year’s budget, the commission will be prepared to quickly launch a number of economic development projects that are currently being developed — when and if those projects receive final approval in 2014, Ertel said.

Those projects include economic development around the new U.S. 50 bypass and annexation of some land near the North Vernon Municipal Airport so the city can generate money from it, Ertel said.

After the City Council passes the budget, the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance must give final approval, said Deputy Clerk-Treasurer Rita Elmore.

If you go

WHAT: North Vernon City Council meeting

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: Carnegie Government Center, 143 E. Walnut St.

WHY: Final vote on city’s 2014 budget

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