A 5.8 percent solution

Council looks to close hole in city's budget

Patrick Fisher

Staff Writer

Cuts totalling nearly $230,000 will be voted on Monday, March 2, as the New Prague City Council looks to close a 5.8 percent shortage of revenues to its 2009 budget.

The shortage is slightly more than the $228,688 in Local Government Aid (LGA) that the city had anticipated, but will not receive due to the nearly $5 billion shortfall in the state's budget. Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced the proposed cuts in LGA earlier this month. The reductions are being made in the city's General Fund budget.

The proposal was brought to the council at its February 17 meeting by city administrator Mike Johnson.

Johnson met with city staff and identified potential areas that could be trimmed without causing significant reductions in city services. They include:

• $145,727 from unallocated funds

• $46,622 from personnel costs and benefits

• $4,900 from operation and maintenance

• $32,200 from capital expenses

The unallocated funds are used to pay for unanticipated expenses. The reduction would leave only $25,000 in unallocated funds for the current year.

Personnel costs and benefits would affect nearly every city department, and would be accomplished by reductions in wage adjustments and other compensation and a delay in filling a full-time account technician position.

The cuts in operations and maintenance would include eliminating dues and subscriptions, among other items.

Capital expenses would be reduced by delaying repairs to the community swimming pool, postponing the purchase of some equipment, shifting the purchase of an 800 megahertz radio and antenna from the general fund to the fire station construction project, delaying the purchase of new computers and reducing the street seal coating budget.

If the council concurs with the proposals presented by Johnson, they could be adopted on March 2, but formal action might be delayed until the governor and legislature approve their final numbers in May.

Councilmember Kay Wilcox asked if the city would see any of the federal stimulus plan in either administration or for the police department.

Johnson and Police Chief Mark Vosejpka didn't know of anything specifically where the city would qualify.

It's certainly testing our ingenuity in running the city

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