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Garland gambles on fewer fires this year

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The 2010-11 budget was approved unanimously at Garland City Council Wednesday night. In all, seven resolutions and three amendments regarding the budget passed.

The fire department’s cut of the pie during the belt tightening this year was an issue that was debated. While the firefighters received a small raise, former council member Bill Bishop spoke of his concern that the overall fire budget remained the same.

Councilmember Jonna Comstock stated that the council was aware that this was a bit of a risk, as the council cannot foresee the total operation costs that will be incurred this year. However, she said, “a contingency fund can be used if it is needed.” If the budget seems insufficient, the council plans to make an adjustment toward the end of the next fiscal year.

“We are going to gamble and go ahead,” council member Fred Christensen stated, “and move the money a year from now if needed.”

Among other policy changes is the city workers’ vacation schedule, which will switch from a fiscal year calendar to a calendar year. An amendment on the parking ordinance and the length of planning and zoning commission terms were two more policies that were changed.

According to the parking ordinance, cars will park at a different angle around the city building. In addition, restricted parking on the city’s curbs will be repainted from yellow to red to comply with national law, Mayor Arlon Bennett said. Also, planning and zoning committee terms were upped from two to five years.

Comstock commented that three people attended the last planning and zoning public meeting on annexation. With the lull in building within the city due to the economy, the committee is updating its general plan and looking at the annexation policy. Another public meeting will be held July 14.

Chief Linda Bourne reported the police department received calls on four very aggressive dogs. Bourne indicated at least two of the four were pit bulls. The council was concerned about the report and discussed how to make apartment tenants aware that they need to register their dogs with the city and that with pit bulls, owners must show the city proof of $1,000 liability insurance on the dogs

The council suggested that since the tenants generally don’t have contact with the city paying utilities and water and they are often unaware of this policy. One possible solution, Christensen said, was to make it the landlords’ responsibility to notify the tenants of the city’s policy.

In other news, Bennett said that the city’s desire to have a crosswalk in front of the high school auditorium will have to be worked out with the school district and a community safety council.

“We will need to work it out this year so that it’s in place for next year,” he said.


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