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Madras OKs budget


   The Madras City Council approved the largest city budget ever at its June 27 meeting -- $28.5 million.
   The budget will allow the city to expand its sewer system and add four new city employees to two rapidly growing city departments.
   Nearly $14.8 million is budgeted to build sewer storage ponds on a 100-acre parcel the city owns east of Madras, south of "Yarrow," the master-planned community under development by the Madras Land Development Company.
   The new ponds will help the city accommodate the demand from the 1,700 homes in that development, as well as the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution, part of which is expected to be completed in December.
   "Our goal is to begin storage there within a year to a year and a half," said Mike Morgan, city administrator. "It will increase our capacity by one-half million gallons a day, which will essentially double where we are today."
   The Oregon Department of Corrections will pay for 46 percent of the expansion, with the balance coming from a loan from the Department of Environmental Quality, a grant from the Rural Development Administration, and operating contingency.
   The loan will be repaid with sewer system development charges, and won't increase the rate paid by city users, Morgan said.
   The Madras Public Works Department will add two new employees: a wastewater system employee and an administrative assistant.
   The Community Development Department will be the recipient of the other two newly created positions: an associate planner and a staff assistant.
   "The Community Development Department went from two subdivisions in the last 10 years to roughly 20 subdivisions in the last year, and they went from an average of about 25 building permits per year to 252 last year," Morgan pointed out.
   "It's a very forward-looking budget to deal with the growth that's here right now, and prepare for the growth in the next two years," he added.