Jun. 23—When the Watertown City Council voted to approve the budget during a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, it gave a raise to all city employees, but the extent of that raise depends on where you work.
Employees at the Watertown Police Department will get a $2 raise thanks to the new budget. All other city employees are slated to receive a $1 raise.
Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings lamented that the squeeze for trained first responders hits small towns hard, because larger municipalities and county governments who are similarly feeling the effects of staffing shortages incentivize personnel away from the smaller towns.
"I wish I could recommend more for our employees," Jennings said. "I hope this time next year we are talking about something fairly significant. We don't have a police car or a backhoe or anything else that runs by itself without an employee, so we need to take care of our people. This council and previous council have been good. I think in my 39 years we have given a raise every year. We need to continue doing that."
The budget ordinance does not carry a property tax increase with it.
The city council will reconvene on June 29 in the Watertown Community Center, located at 8630 Sparta Pike in Watertown, at 5:30 p.m. for a special-called meeting to consider, and take action on, the second and final reading of the budget and tax-rate ordinance that it approved on Tuesday.
Jennings indicated that he wanted to allow time for people to get to church since it is on a Wednesday.
A public hearing will be held prior to the meeting at 5:15 p.m. No one spoke up during the meeting on Tuesday.
Repair to water system
J.C. York, the Lebanon water treatment plant superintendent who assists with the water system in Watertown, addressed a few needs concerning the city's system, specifically, replacing a piece of equipment that was damaged by a lightning strike earlier this year.
"(Watertown) agreed to purchase a supervisory control and data acquisition system," York said. "It will take all the information from their tanks from their clear well, and it will control their chemicals and pumps, both sending high-service pumps for flow out into the system and for control over well pumps into the treatment plant."
Since the damage was caused by lighting, the city expects insurance to cover the cost.
Inflation hitting home
Increased costs of food, specifically fish, has forced the fire department's hand to explore an alternative for their annual fish fry event. According to Watertown Fire Chief Blake Hahn, the department's costs for the fish have nearly doubled.
"Our overhead on fish alone without anything else is $2,000," said Haun. "We decided to try something different, like over the Fourth of July, doing a BBQ. We are just looking at ways to be productive and still doing something without passing the cost along to the citizens."
The BBQ will be held on July 2 at the Watertown Fire Department, located at 160 South Statesville Road in Watertown, from 11:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.