Hermiston City Manager Ed Brookshier has released a proposed budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 that will very slightly increase spending from $54.4 million to $54.5 million.

The two-tenths of a percent proposed increase follows two years of reduced spending and includes a 1.5 percent pay increase for eligible employees and a handful of public improvement projects.

By far the largest budgeted item in the proposal is a $27 million line item for the wastewater treatment plant project originally scheduled to begin construction sometime in 2012.

The 30-year-old current plant is slated to be replaced by a new facility that will improve the recycled wastewater from class C to class A designation.

The city has already been awarded $15 million in low-interest loans from the Environmental Protection Agency, and according to project engineer Brad Bogus, the city hopes to get an additional $5 million through the EPA.

The city also plans to raise its water and sewer rates to help pay for the project.

In the proposed budget, Brookshier cites budget difficulties for the project that could force the city to renegotiate a wastewater discharge permit with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The proposed budget also includes:

• $50,000 to widen East Main Street.

• $30,000 for a pedestrian crossing near Good Shepherd Medical Center.

• $30,00 for handicap accessibility improvements at City Hall.

• $150,000 for an Agape House homeless shelter project.

• $165,000 for a new street sweeper, including $56,000 from the General Fund and $54,000 from the Street Fund.

• $100,000 transfer from the General Fund to the Revolving Loan Fund to help secure an Oregon Department of Business Development grant, the second such grant the city could receive.

Budget packets are available at City Hall.

The May 16 Budget Committee meeting is open to the public. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 180 N.E. Second St.

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