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Budget plan hikes property tax 4.3 percent

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz Friday evening released a proposed budget for 2011 that avoids a general fund property tax increase. But it would see pension and debt service costs raise the city’s overall property tax levy 4.3 percent next year.

The plan calls for cutting $2.2 million in general fund expenses — mainly through layoffs. And it anticipates about $700,000 in new revenue, mainly from increased taxes and fees — including boosts in transfer station charges, the gasoline tax, the electric utility tax and beach token fees.

It also proposes using up $263,000 in reserves from the Dutch Elm disease program.

The budget calls for closing the branch libraries, but leaving total library spending almost unchanged so more resources can be devoted to the main library downtown.

On a percentage basis the city department hit hardest by the general fund cuts would appear to be the Law Department. It has a vacant deputy city attorney position downgraded to assistant city attorney. But most of its apparent budget reduction comes from reassigning a secretarial position to the insurance fund.

The Public Works Department sees a 7 percent spending reduction as the new solid waste program is implemented — contracting out a bigger share of the city’s waste removal services.

The Community and Economic Development Department also sees a 7 percent spending cut, with three staff positions eliminated. Two of those positions are currently vacant.

The Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department sees a 5 percent spending cut, with about nine staff positions eliminated.

The City Manager’s office would see a 3 percent spending cut, with the elimination of three switchboard operator jobs partially offset by a proposed two percent pay hike for department heads to partially restore the five percent pay cut they took this year.

The Administrative Services Department would see a 2 percent spending cut, achieved by eliminating two vacant positions.

The Fire and Police departments would each see spending cuts of less than 1 percent, and there’d be no change in spending for Legislative costs — the City Council and City Clerk.

Overall the budget  proposes eliminating 21.65 full-time-equivalent positions, 10 of which are currently vacant. Twelve current employees would lose their jobs.

The budget also includes 12 new full-time-equivalent positions to staff the city’s new 311 non-emergency call center, which becomes a new unit within the Police Department.

The City Council is scheduled to hold its first discussion of the proposed new budget on Saturday morning, Oct. 23.

The new budget covers a 10-month period, as the city transitions from a fiscal year that starts March 1 to one that is in sync with the calendar year.

Related document

Proposed 2011 city budget (.pdf)

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