City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told aldermen Monday night that it will take more layoffs of city workers to eliminate a projected $3.5 million deficit in next year's budget.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.
Bobkiewicz didn't say how many workers will be cut. That information will be included in the manager's proposed budget to be released early next month.
This year the city cut its total workforce by about 5 percent, or 44 full-time-equivalent positions, and reduced its total spending by nearly $7 million.
In preparing for the current budget year, Bobkiewicz had said the city faced a $9 million deficit.
Bobkiewicz says that while the city will be laying people off, it will also be hiring some additional workers to staff a new 311 call center to make it easier for residents to report problems with city services and get information about city programs.
That program, to be housed at police headquarters, which already houses the city's 911 emergency call center, is scheduled to launch next March 1 -- the start of the new fiscal year.
While Bobkiewicz and Joellen Earl, the city's administrative services manager, said the staff's goal is to not raise the general fund property tax levy, residents can still look forward to a number of increases in taxes and service fees in the new budget.
- Property tax rates will rise nearly 4 percent to cover a planned 11 percent increase in payments to the police and fire pension funds.
- The City Council is considering a 10 percent increase in water rates.
- The council is also considering issuing $17 million in general obigation bonds over the next four years to refinance sewer fund debt. That's expected to add $38 to property tax bills for every $100,000 of equalized assessed valuation.
- The Library Board, while it's recently scaled back its demands for additional funds, is still considering budget options that could raise the tax for library services by around 5 percent.
In addition, Earl told aldermen Monday that the staff plans to recommend increases in the gasoline tax and the electric utility tax.
Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, listens as Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, speaks.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she was "very impressed" with the budget presentation, but asked for clarification about what the shift to a new budget cycle, with a transitional 10-month budget year next year would mean for residents' tax bills.
Would they drop next year, she asked, only to rise the following year when the city returned to a 12-month budget, but with a start date of January 1 rather than March 1?
Bobkiewicz said the plan is to avoid that -- by levying the property tax each year in an amount designed to cover 12 months worth of expenses.
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