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Bailey hopes bigger cuts won’t be needed

By Staff | Mar 23, 2009

The Blue Earth City Council got a second look at possible cuts to the 2009 budget, and this time there were some serious items on the list.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey had previously listed $278,259 in proposed cuts to the budget in various departments.

“We had $110,000 cut from our 2008 local government aid (LGA),” Bailey told the council at a work session last Monday night. “The governor is proposing cuts to the state’s budget which could drop $160,000 to our 2009 LGA.”

Bailey said those two cuts total $270,000, so her proposal of cutting $278,000 from this year’s budget is “right in the ball park” of what the city will have to do.

However, Bailey had a secondary list of cuts to the budget which she had marked in blue.

“I think it will not be necessary to do any of these blue lined cuts,” Bailey said, “But we need to be flexible because we don’t know what the end result of the LGA cuts will be.”

Some of the blue marked items included such drastic measures as closing the pool and ice rink for the season, not making the annual donation to the firemens’ relief fund, cutting funding to the ambulance service, and not doing any mosquito control.

“These would not be pleasant cuts, so I hope we never have to make them,” Bailey said.

Mayor Rob Hammond pointed out that not opening the pool would also cut back on revenue, so there may not be much savings involved.

“Yes, it would be a last resort,” Bailey said. “These blue line items are definitely not being considered at this time.

While the administrator asked for a go-ahead vote on the original $278,000 in proposed cuts, Hammond said he wanted to wait until the city actually knows how much the LGA will be cut by the state.

“I realize that may not be until May or later,” Hammond said.

Councilman John Huisman reiterated his suggestion that a public forum concerning the proposed cuts be held. Other councilmen agreed it was needed.

They instructed Bailey to set up a date in the near future, and suggested a Monday evening when the council did not have a regular meeting, would be the best.

The budget cuts which compose the $278,000 proposed include every department of the city.

The major items are $171,785 cut from public works; $57,384 cut from wastewater; $26,500 from administration; and $21,215 from the police budget.

Other departmental cuts range from $1,000 to $10,000.