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Junction approves first reading of budget

Junction City Council held a first reading of its 2018-19 budget Thursday night, approving a 50-cent raise for city employees.

The council passed the first reading of an $889,690 budget without questions or discussion.

At the end of the meeting, Council Member Kenny Baldwin recommended giving the city employees a pay raise. Council members agreed and approved the 50-cent raise.

On Thursday, the council also learned that the fire department would be in need of radios soon.

Fire Chief Troy Gammon explained that a portion of his members served on both Junction City and Boyle County fire departments, but used their county-issued radios and did not have city-issued radios because the city doesn’t have enough for everyone.

“Half of our roster or more has radios that belong to Boyle County Fire Department,” Gammon said.

The county is changing to a new frequency, which the city radios will not be able to pick up. Those with county radios might be able to pick up the city frequency, but that would not be the primary station. Gammon said that was a problem for the city, because “about six” firefighters might not hear when the city department is dispatched out.

Council members asked if there were other options to notify members, other than having to purchase more radios; Gammon said a federal regulation requires all firefighters to have a mobile radio, so they have two-way communication if they enter a structure fire.

Mayor Jim Douglas questioned how the county could make that change, when city residents pay county taxes. Assistant Fire Chief Dewayne Taylor, who also works for the county, said the county was making the change as a way of clearing up the stations, as Boyle County, Perryville and Junction City fire departments all share the same channel.

“If they go tomorrow and switch over, the guys that are on the city that have the county fire department radios will not be able to communicate or have any kind of response if something goes on in the city,” Taylor said.

With the new frequency, Taylor said, anyone with a county radio should be able to switch over and talk to the city departments, but no one on the city would be able to switch over to speak to the county department. In an emergency, dispatch could call the county fire department out, but city firefighters could be delayed in their response.

Council members also reminded the mayor that the Boyle County Fire Department is funded by a special taxing district, which Junction City residents do not pay taxes to.

Douglas said all the council members should inquire about why the change is happening and said he planned to, as well. The council decided to wait on approving any radio purchases.

The council will have a special called meeting at 6 p.m. on June 21 to have a second reading and approval of the budget.