MORGAN CITY, La. — A 2-percent pay raise for city employees and the purchase of a $1.1 million transformer were included in the Morgan City 2013 budget presented by Mayor Tim Matte at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
The transformer is to replace the destroyed transformer from the June 26 fire, which shut off power to the city.
Matte said higher costs due to inflation and increases in retirement costs still affect the city, but that “the proposed 2013 budget projects expected sales tax collections to increase over expected 2012 collections by 3 percent.”
The proposed 2013 general fund expenditures budget are $36,553,982, a decrease from $40,587,121 in 2012’s amended budget, but higher than 2011’s actual expenditures of $34,180,430.
“The total general fund revenues are expected to be slightly less than our 2012 expectations and our 2011 collections,” he said.
Matte spoke of granting city employees a raise.
“Our employees were last granted a general pay raise in 2008,” he said.
“Over the past five years, they have received the annual longevity increase. I would propose to the City Council that we provide a 2-percent salary adjustment in addition to the annual longevity increase. We anticipate that the cost of this raise will be $150,000 throughout all city departments,” Matte said.
The budget also includes items in the capital outlay budget for which funds have not yet been provided.
“These include roof and jail repairs at the police department and renovations at the water plant,” Matte said. “Further analysis is needed at the police station before the true scope of work can be determined.”
Also, the wastewater plant is scheduled for repairs.
“Our wastewater plant is now more than 25 years old, and we have budgeted the first major repair of the headworks of the plant, which totals $350,000,” Matte said.
The council is expected to take action on the budget in the next meeting.
Matte and consulting engineer Raleigh Cox spoke of the city’s efforts at acquiring a replacement transformer for the one destroyed in the June 26 fire that left the city without electricity for a day.
“Friday, we received three bids on a new transformer,” Cox said.
The lowest bid was for $1,134,318 from Pennsylvania Transformer Technology.
“We looked at all their documents. Everything looks like it’s in order. I recommend we accept that bid,” Cox said.
He expects delivery “sometime around May” and said the builder’s biggest problem would be procuring materials for the transformer’s construction.
“We have a few other steps we have to take for the insurance companies,” Cox said. “The adjuster agreed with the bids, that they were sufficient for his purpose.”
He said that it would cost nearly $100,000 to install and test the transformer.
“Hopefully, the insurance company takes care of all that,” Cox said.
Matte was asked if the two insurance companies — Lloyd’s of London, the city’s property insurer, and Travelers Insurance, which underwrites the boiler and machinery — had come to a conclusion about the cause of the June 26 fire, and which company would pay for which portions of the costs of replacing the transformer.
“It appears that between themselves,” Matte said, “the boiler and machinery underwriter appears to be taking responsibility for a bushing, and that’s going to be his cost, and the fire insurer is taking responsibility for the fire of the transformer.”
It is suspected that a cracked bushing leaked petroleum coolant and that the petroleum caught fire.
Matte asked Cox if that explanation told him “anything about the cause” of the fire.
“Yeah, it was a bushing,” Cox said.
The council also approved last week’s finance committee recommendations to buy furnishings and appliances at Lake End Park and an all-steer loader for the Public Works and Sanitation departments.
The loader and various attachments will be purchased from the Bobcat corporation for $64,484, a state bid price, and is expected to perform, among other things, the tasks now performed by a trash truck requiring drivers with commercial driver’s licenses.
“We’ve had problems in the sanitation department of keeping drivers with CDLs,” District 2 councilman Larry Bergeron said, adding that lucrative wages in the private sector for CDL drivers mean that the city has trouble keeping them.
District 4 Councilman Luke Manfre was absent from the meeting. Matte said that Manfre was out-of-state because of a death in the family.