‘Tis the season. Not the holiday season, but the budget planning season for the City of Graham. At the city’s last council meeting, June 19 at city hall, aldermen began planning a budget for the 2015 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, with the first of several budget workshops.

Planning will continue through summer with workshops and discussions planned at every council meeting until Sept. 25, when the city is scheduled to approve the new budget.

The first meeting included presentations by city department leaders, as well as a council discussion regarding broad goals for the next five years.

“If there’s any issues y’all think that we need to be addressing as we develop the budget to present to you, now would be the time to just give us some general input,” City Manager David Casteel said.

Not unlike the holiday season, budget planning began with department heads explaining their wish lists for the next year. Topping those lists in overall cost is a shiny new fire truck  estimated at $300,000. The current primary fire engine is 10-years-old, said Graham Fire Rescue Chief Dennie Covey, and the cost to keep the aging machine road-ready has increased over the last two years.

“Its got 76,000 miles on it, which is over mileage for that model year of truck for a first-out unit” said Covey. “It’s got over 10,000 hours on the motor, and it just so happens that it started doing the breaking down that it hadn’t done in the past. Just in the last two months we’ve spent over $13,000 on it.”

The $300,000 price tag could be reduced by trading in or selling a 2000 model truck the city already owns that can’t accommodate the three-man crews now used by the department, said Covey.

Another need identified was an update to the city’s sewage treatment plant. Plant supervisor Justin Howard explained that the headworks and bar screen at the facility need to be replaced at an estimated cost of $160,000.

Read the entire story in Wednesday's Graham Leader.