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      City Manager Unveils His Budget Proposal

      Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes announced his proposal for next yearâ??s city budget.

      His proposed, $414 million budget calls for no tax increases and the first balanced budget since 1989.

      With a growing number of violent crimes in Columbia, Police Chief Ken Burton is asking for 38 additional officers for next year. Matthes said thereâ??s only enough money in next yearâ??s budget to hire 2 new patrol officers and a new sergeant. Matthes agrees his city needs an additional 38 police officers, but itâ??s not happening now.

      Columbia Finance Director John Blattel said, â??Weâ??re looking at 3 officers this year and additional officers in FY15 as funds become available, to get to that goal of 38 additional officers as soon as we can.â??

      The problem is that Matthes has been on a 3 year mission to balance the city budget. His $414 million budget proposal does that with the exception of about a million dollars in contributions to the employee pension program that was guaranteed last year. Chief Burton has started an initiative to get more of his officers on the street by removing some of their desk duties. Matthes is also calling for a water rate increase of about 5% and plans to ask voters to approve a new storm water utility tax on next yearâ??s August ballot.

      City leaders plan to hold 3 public hearings during August and September on their budget plans.

      Council members are expected to approve next yearâ??s budget during their meeting on September 16.