The City Council has unanimously approved a budget for the new fiscal year that preserves police, fire and maintenance services at their current levels. The budget was balanced by cutting $2 million through a series of restructuring moves at City Hall.
Mayor Glenn G. Parker said the process of drafting the $27.2-million budget was "a long one and a difficult one."
"We started several months ago working with staff to evaluate the entire budget, top to bottom," Parker said. "One of the things we did was a tremendous amount of community outreach to determine our priorities."
The top concern that emerged from a community values survey and other sources of feedback from residents was that the city should maintain its commitment to public safety, Parker said. The second-highest priority was "keeping the city clean and looking good," the mayor said.
The city has been faced with "a severe budget challenge" over the past three years, according to City Manager Frank Benest. Inflation has led to higher costs for employee salaries, materials and equipment, while the recession has cut into tax revenues.
Further exacerbating the city's financial problems was the loss of $6.3 million in state funding since the 1991-92 fiscal year, Benest said.
Parker said the city responded by cutting "a little bit of everything" at City Hall.
"Recognizing the situation wasn't going to change--we realized we needed to make some major restructuring in the way we do business," Parker said. This included the elimination of 32 vacant or soon-to-be-vacant positions at City Hall, he said.
The city is also saving money by contracting out certain services, recruiting volunteers to help at the police and fire departments and using technology to enhance productivity.