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Nederland council talks street lights, firefighters while drafting budget

NEDERLAND — The city of Nederland is chipping away at a draft budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year that includes some projects, some purchases and a new position.

City manager Chris Duque said officials are looking at an $11.4 million general fund budget. One major expenditure is an allocation of about $50,000 to install street lights in underserved areas. Currently an engineering intern is performing a field survey with data from Entergy and a map showing gaps where lights are needed.

The city will partner with Entergy on the project as it involves easement issues. Duque said he has told the council not to expect all of the underserved areas to get lighting in one year — this will be a multi-year project.

In addition, Duque said the city plans to get with the police department to learn of areas with high crime and see if lighting will help.

Another major expenditure is adding a firefighter position. Nederland Fire Department has not added a new firefighter slot in more than 15 years, he said, and this new position will help with overtime. The cost of the position including salary and benefits is around $85,000.

The city is also looking to give a 3.5% cost of living increase to employees and make an adjustment to crossing guard pay.

“The city pays for cross guards at elementary and middle schools,” he said. “And we have had issues over the past several years keeping it fully staffed.”

One crossing guard left the job to go to another school district where the pay is better, he said.

There are cost saving factors in the draft budget as well. Duque said they are looking to reduce the use of paper and are going to purchase an Incode module.

“This will save money in the long term,” he said.

The draft budget is still a work in progress.