City budget work session: Day 2

This is Mary Daly, live blogging from the second budget work session. Tonight, city staff will further discuss possible amendments to the proposed fiscal year 2011 budget. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 701 E. Broadway, in conference rooms 1A and 1B and is open to the public. Stay with The Watchword for continuing coverage.

6:15 p.m.: City Manager Bill Watkins starts talking about the possible amendments proposed, including cutting the food budget for the City Council. The proposed food budget is $15,000. Further proposals include cutting it in half, striking it completely or reducing it to $1,000 to cover only beverages. Mayor Bob McDavid suggested reducing the food budget to $10,000 and seeing “if we can live with that.”

6:23 p.m.: The council ultimately decided to propose to reduce the food budget to $3,500.

6:28 p.m.: Now talk turns to the proposal that would cut travel and training expenses in half. Watkins said that proposal is “doable” in some departments, but “we need to understand the impact of the cuts.” Watkins said cutting the police department’s travel and training would be the “toughest one.”

6:38 p.m.: Watkins continues discussing various departments and how they would be affected by a 50 percent reduction in the travel and training general fund. He said instead of cutting the budget in half, which would bring it to $239,404, he would be “comfortable” with $350,000. Councilman Jason Thornhill said he wouldn’t be comfortable taking training funding “from people who we’re continually asking to be doing an excellent job.”

6:56 p.m.: The discussion moves to the proposal that would add four firefighters and reclassify three firefighters to engineers and three to lieutenants at Fire Station No. 2. The estimated cost of this proposal is $344,000. “This is not a one-year commitment,” Councilman Daryl Dudley said.

7:03 p.m.: Because a formal request was not submitted to add four traffic officers to the police department, a possible amendment to the budget only asks for two officers and one vehicle, which would cost about $204,000.

7:20 p.m.: “We have a stressed general fund,” McDavid said. Council members are looking at other areas where they can cut back, including the council printing budget and the city’s purchase of trash bags.

7:25 p.m.: The meeting wraps up with McDavid disclosing his pleasure that the proposed budget could allow for the hiring of two police officers and reinstatement of four firefighters.

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