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Council crunches numbers

By Staff | Mar 1, 2010

If Wells officials are going to cut another more than $135,000 from the current budget, they have to start by looking in the mirror.

That was City Administrator Jeremy Germann’s message during a special budget meeting held Thursday afternoon.

“I’m proposing a voluntary furlough of 19 days for myself without getting paid,” says Germann. “I’m asking each council member and the mayor to cut $1,000 each. It’s up to you. No one can make you do it.”

The pay cuts would amount to $10,000.That was just the beginning of proposed administrative cuts that totaled $51,000.

The council is revising the budget because Gov. Tim Pawlenty is asking the Legislature to approve ‘unallotments’ in state aid to local governments.

Wells stands to lose $135,600 if the governor gets his way.

Germann says the city could save another $30,000 if the Housing Redevelopment Authority and Economic Development Authority each paid $15,000 of the community development director’s salary.

Department heads, union stewards and City Council members listened as Germann outlined proposed cuts in a power-point presentation lasting nearly an hour.

“I don’t think anybody is going to leave here happy with the cuts I’m going to suggest,” says Germann. “But, if we all pull together we can get through this. We all have to sacrifice a little bit.”

When it comes to identifying cuts, no area is considered a “sacred cow.”

The amount budgeted for capital outlay would be reduced $43,500 and services would be slashed $26,500.

Germann says closing the pool the last week of the year and the recycling center on Tuesdays would save $13,000.

Turning off some street lights would shave $10,000 off the city’s $40,000 annual bill, and the amount spent on mosquito spraying would be cut in half to $2,500.

Despite the proposed cuts, the city would still need to borrow $14,600 from the liquor store fund to balance the budget.

Councilman Ron Gaines says he doesn’t want to cut jobs and that’s a priority for him.

Councilman Steve Burns asked Germann if he thought the drastic cuts cities have had to make will continue next year.

Germann says he doesn’t know, but Mayor Shannon Savick says while at a conference she was told the deficit will hit $6 billion by 2012.

“I think we should be planning for the long term,” she says.

Councilman Mike Weber suggested raising some fees as a way to add money to the city’s coffers.

“We better find a way to get more revenue or find permanent cuts,” he says.

The department heads one by one offered other cost-savings measures.

Council members requested a hard copy of Germann’s proposal so they could study the suggested cuts.

Another budget session will be held before the council’s regular meeting on March 8.