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Wausau budget approved

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – Wausau city leaders passed a budget Tuesday that raises property taxes in 2010, increases employee health insurance premiums and counts on union employees to give up wage increases. The City Council approved the budget on a 9-2 vote, with aldermen Tom Miller and Lisa Rasmussen voting against it. The budget raises property taxes 18 cents from $8.23 to $8.41 per thousand dollars of assessed property value. That means the owner of a $100,000 home will pay $841 in city taxes. The city was able to balance a $169,000 gap by increasing employee health insurance costs. Employees will contribute 10 percent to premiums next year, up from 9 percent this year. The overall premium is also increasing. Two of the city’s five employee unions agreed to defer their wage increases until the end of 2010. The firefighters union agreed to the move late last week. The police union, which originally agreed to defer wages until October 1, decided hours before the budget vote to extend the deferral until December 26. The city’s clerical, public works and transit employee unions must also agree to the wage concessions or else the city would be forced to consider additional layoffs, Mayor Jim Tipple said. The city announced November 18 that 10 public works employees would be laid off indefinitely and that remaining public works and clerical staff would take two unpaid furlough days before year’s end. The first furlough day will be Wednesday, when most city offices will be closed. Among other budget highlights, the city reduced the amount by which it will raise its sewer rates in 2010 from 25 to 8 percent. It also cut crossing guard work time from 90 to 45 minutes a day.

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