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BREAKING NEWS

While two cities study, another makes cuts

By Staff | Mar 15, 2010

Jeremy Germann

With a fine-tooth comb, the Wells City Council discussed proposed cuts needed to balance the city’s budget.

In the end, council members voted Monday to trim the budget an additional $117,000.

“We’re going to implement these (cuts) as soon as possible,” says City Administrator Jeremy Germann.

Because Gov. Tim Pawlenty is proposing another round of “unallotments” this year, city officials are anticipating $135,573 less in Local Government Aid.

So, Germann wasted little time putting together a list of cuts totaling $121,000. The city also will borrow $14,600 from the liquor store fund to make up the difference.

Council members all agreed to trim $1,000 from their annual salary of $2,400 and $1,000 off the mayor’s $3,000.

However, council member Ashley Seedorf was willing to dig deeper into her pocketbook.

“I don’t mind not getting paid at all,” Seedorf told the council.

Mayor Shannon Savick suggested Seedorf could donate her earnings back to the city.

The council wasn’t real sure the city administrator taking 19 unpaid furlough days to save $5,000 was a good idea.

Councilman Steve Burns made a motion to take Germann’s pay cut proposal off the chopping block.

Councilman Mike Weber told Germann he didn’t know how the city could operate 19 days without his services.

But, the city administrator told the council to reconsider Burns’ motion because all budget cuts are necessary at this time.

“I’m willing to make it work, even if it means coming in half days,” says Germann. “It’s about balancing our budget.”

In total, administrative cuts would total $51,000.

City officials will work with Wells Public Utilities to see which street lights can be turned off to save $10,000 from the city’s expected annual bill of $40,000.

In addition, capital outlay would be slashed $43,500 and services, $26,500; and closing the pool a week earlier and the recycling center on Tuesdays would amount to a total savings of $13,000.

Council members also wanted department heads to keep overtime hours to a bare minimum.

Germann may have to go back through the budget and look for more cuts.

The council decided to restore $2,500 for mosquito spraying and tabled a proposal to charge the golf club $2,000 for mowing.

Charles Schulenberg, president of the golf club board, says paying for mowing would result in raising course fees and that would be a “double whammy” because less people would golf.

Schulenberg says the council could charge others — like baseball and volleyball players — who use the parks or even non-profit groups such as the Senior Nutritional Program to rent the Community Building.

Germann says the city probably won’t know until August how much state aid it will actually lose.

“We’ll do everything to keep the budget as close as possible. At the end of the year we’ll decide if there’s anything we need to do if we need to balance it,” he says.

In Winnebago, City Administrator Jennifer Feely has asked each department head to trim 10 percent from their budget to deal with an expected state aid loss of $84,000.

“I’m disappointed some of the departments didn’t provide any input. The council can now make the decision what to cut,” she says.

The police department will decrease its budget by $26,336. Of that amount, $15,000 of the reduction will be capital equipment. There also will be $4,750 less allocated to a task force; $3,500 less for fuel; and cutting a computer contract by $3,086.

The fire department will cut $15,000 from capital outlay and the library will scale back on books, magazines, office supplies and automation to save $6,094.