Fairbanks council passes budget after amendment debate

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Fairbanks City Council passed next year's city budget at its meeting Monday, but not before strong debate on a pair of amendments.
David Spindler was in the council chambers and files this report.
The first proposed amendment was introduced by council member Valerie Therrien. She moved to put an extra 5,000 dollars into traveling expenses for city council business. That proposed amendment was shot down, however, in a 4 to 3 vote by Fairbanks mayor Jim Matherly. Council member Jerry Cleworth brought a second budget amendment that got a better reception.
Jerry Cleworth; Fairbanks City Council Member>>: "That in the coming year in the fire department, we keep one of the firefighters. Two of them are being laid off here, we keep one of them and that we do not fund the pay increases for the year 2018. We've got one group that is getting the lion's share of everything. Now, in this budget here were looking at another 3.5 percent. You put those together and you've got about a 7.6 percent. Our tax cap allows us to grow by the consumer price index which is running currently one percent."
Council member David Pruhs agreed with Cleworth's proposed amendment.
David Pruhs; Fairbanks City Council Member>>: "Now what Jerry has offered is something very amendable. I'd rather keep a firefighter in the position than lose two firefighters and increase wages. Now we've got a choice...hire a package and less firefighters or more firefighters and a somewhat less of a package."
Both Therrien and council member June Rogers disagreed with the reasoning behind the amendment.
June Rogers; Fairbanks City Council Member>>: "I find it way too difficult to go backwards on our word. So I'm hearing in the information, understanding where you're coming from, and that you're trying for us to have a new perspective but it still rings as going back on the decision."
Cleworth's amendment passed by a 4 to 2 vote, with only Therrien and Rogers opposed. David Spindler reporting.