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‘Public safety-oriented’: Meridian budget gets green light

Meridian set its budget last night with dozens of new staff and investments in public safety and housing. 

The 2023 budget was approved in a 5-1 vote, with council member Luke Cavener voting no. The budget was praised by council members for its straightforward spending and its emphasis on public safety in a growing city. 

The budget will take the maximum allowed 3% property tax collections increase. The tax increase and $30 million in the city fund balance that has no identified use pushed Cavener to vote against it. 

 “I’ve voiced the concern about ($30) million in an allocated revenue. And I’ve struggled with supporting a budget that continues to take the 3% property tax increase until we have acknowledged what we’re going to do with that ($30) million,” Cavener said. “Meridian residents, we see the cost of groceries, of our utilities, and we’ve had Republic Services the first time with a rate increase. We are likely headed into a recession, and to me, I do not think that now is the right time for us to be increasing taxes while we continue to have ($30) million sitting in our bank. So while I appreciate the effort of the council, the mayor, and our amazing staff, it’s not a budget that I can be in support of tonight.”

However, council members seemed to agree that the property tax increase was necessary in order to expand public safety. The city previously committed to building two fire stations and the North Meridian Police Precinct. This budget also adds 46 public safety workers within the next fiscal year, including six student resource officers for elementary schools.

“A lot of hard work went into it. It’s a frugal budget. There’s not a lot of fat in here,” council member Liz Strader said. “I agree with the comments that it’s a public safety-oriented budget, and especially I appreciate the prioritization of the new SRO positions. I think it’s incredibly important that we do what we can as a city to keep our kids safe, especially at school right now in this environment. So I just really appreciate you putting that in there and feel really good about this budget.”

Council members emphasized that this $219,724,039 budget is for the people of Meridian.

Budget highlights

Some budget highlights include:

  • Dozens of new staff across several departments
  • Funding to put toward a new community center
  • Funding for housing 
  • Sewer line extensions 

“I think it’s culminated into a very sound, defendable, and appropriate budget for the city of maintaining levels of service that our citizens deserve and expect. That is critical. That’s something that Meridian is not going to change,” council member Joe Borton said. “The big things are the big things for us. Public Safety, safe community, extremely efficient and effective, and clean water and sewer, beautiful parks. It may seem simple, but there’s a lot of work that our entire city team does. To make Meridian, Meridian it’s the best city in the state bar none.”

Meridian Mayor Robert Simison concluded the budget hearing by thanking the council for all its hard work on the budget. 

“You all made this budget better,” he said. “I know this budget required you a lot to go out on take some pretty good big leaps with the number of personnel with the capital expenditures, the investment, and all of our employees. This is not insignificant nor lost on me that you ask good questions. You’re a part of the process. I think this is a better budget today than when it started. And I think it will continue to provide the services that our residents need, expect, and the tools that our employees need and deserve to provide that level of expectations of services to our community.”

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Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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