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Ferris increased budget approved

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The Ellis County Press

FERRIS - In a 4-1 vote, Ferris City Council members improved an increase of $74,658.51 or 3.31 percent in the 2003-2004 general operating fund fiscal budget effective Oct. 1, 2003.

The 2003-2004 general operating fund budget was $2.33 million.

Councilman Fred Pontley was the lone vote of opposition against the 2003-2004 general fund, debt service fund and enterprise fund budgets.

Pontley, a former Ferris police officer, said he did not approve the budgets, 'because (Councilman) Victor (Burnett) voted for them.'

He later said, 'I didn't agree with the budget. It wasn't done properly.'

The city's approved budget included no pay raises for department supervisors or city employees, but no jobs have been eliminated as has happened in many cities.

During budget workshops and city council meetings Pontley has been very supportive of the police department.

Council members have tried to decide if the Criminal Investigative Division Investigator position should be eliminated or if a Ferris officer should be promoted to the position without a pay raise.

Councilman Jessie Hernandez said he was under the impression the city was just cutting the CID salary.

Burnett has said Ferris has too many police officers on the force for the size of the city.

He has said city employees need to go to work and quit just standing around doing nothing.

Pontley has argued the position needs to be saved, due to its heavy paperwork and investigational duties load.

In the approved budget for this year, salary for a CID officer was eliminated.

Pontley asked the mayor for clarification on whether Officer Chris Pearson had been promoted saying, Police Chief Jeff Cottongame had been told it was all right to promote Pearson.

'I never signed any paperwork for a promotion,' Ferris Mayor Jimmie Birdwell said.

City Secretary Alice Holloway said she told Cottongame the paperwork would need to be signed by the mayor before any promotions were approved.

The approved budget also included:

• $11,736 for the police department to purchase a recording system to record incoming emergency calls and radio correspondence between officers and the dispatcher.

• $19,500 to update outdated city maps, which will include a color set of maps. According to Holloway, the existing maps will be digitalized using an industry standard ArchView. The local apprasial district and local staff will review the maps to ensure they are acurate. The maps will show the city's extra territorial jurisdiction lines, sewer lines, water lines, street map and a zoning map.

• $6,000 reimbursement of expenses for the mayor. It was originally proposed the mayor be compensated $12,000 a year for expenses.

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