BLAINE – The city’s 2020-21 budget passed first reading Monday with no raises for city employees.

Alderman Michael Hopson, however, said the board needs to do something to reward employees for their loyalty and hard work.

“All our employees have been here a long time. It’s time we step up and show we appreciate them. (Police Chief) Tim (Wyrick) has proved himself over the past year,” Hopson said. 

He said Wyrick’s current salary is the same as Officer Jamie Winstead, a 20-year city employee. He said he believes the chief should be paid more than other officers.

Mayor Marvin Braden said the city needs to watch its spending since the COVID-19 pandemic has caused revenue projections to be uncertain.

“Maybe if we have a little left over (at the end of the fiscal year June 30), maybe we can give them a bonus in July,” he said.

Alderman Charlie McKnight also suggested that Braden request MTAS to do a survey comparing salaries of police chiefs in towns of similar size.

Projected revenue for the coming budget year beginning July 1 is $982,100. Local sales tax revenue is projected at $480,000, which is $30,000 more than this year.

The sewer budget anticipates the award of a $417, 000 grant later this year to expand the system. Braden said it would probably be August or September before they will know if the grant has been awarded.

The budget will be taken up on second reading at the board’s June meeting.

The board also discussed updating requirements for mobile homes. It was prompted by the recent placement of a gutted trailer on a vacant lot at the corner of Depot Street and Indian Ridge Drive. Braden said City Planner David Williams had determined the trailer met setback and other requirements, so nothing could be done.

Alderman Darrell Williams said the board should consider requiring newer model homes in the future. McKnight suggested looking at some beautification requirements. Braden said he would talk to David Williams and City Attorney Shelley Wilson about what measures the city might take.

The meeting was open to the public. Two members of the board, Hopson and Michael Pitts, attended in person with Braden. Other members, who participated electronically, were McKnight, Darrell Williams, Patsy McElhaney and Gabe Black.