UNION HAS OWN VIEW OF BUDGET: A Modesto public employee union plans to present its own review of the city budget. The 440-member Modesto City Employees Association has been pushing for a new contract since July. It hired an independent auditor to check the city's books. The auditor acknowledged that the city's financial position weakened in the past year, but reported the city could afford to raise wages for MCEA workers because Modesto's enterprise sewer and water funds remain sound. Modesto has been saving money in those accounts to pay for major improvements to the city's water and sewer systems. The open meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Ginkgo Room at Centre Plaza.
ANIMAL SHELTER PLAN TAKES TIME: Modesto City Council members want more time to review plans to improve Stanislaus County's animal shelter, three of them said this week. The city is expected to foot 40 percent of the bill to improve the overcrowded shelter, which was built 35 years ago. The county estimates it would cost $9.9 million to $10.8 million to build a shelter that could handle 476 animals a day. Modesto holds a significant stake in the project because many of the animals that end up in the shelter are from the city. Council members Brad Hawn, Garrad Marsh and Kristin Olsen on Monday said they wanted more information to make sure the county's proposal is the best fit for the city. One of the options they want studied is working with Ceres on building a new shelter. That city is reviewing its own options.
FINANCIAL AID FIESTA: The Columbia College financial aid staff is inviting the public to a Financial Aid Awareness Fiesta from noon to 2 p.m. Monday at the Tamarack Hall lower patio. Students can get information about help paying for college expenses. The event is free and open to the public. People will learn that it's not too late to apply for various financial aid programs that are available to community college students. For more information, call the Columbia College financial aid office at 588-5105.