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Budget, not people, reduced

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

City personnel will not lose their jobs as a result of the budget cuts, requested by the city council three weeks ago.
At the first budget hearing of the season in July,  Interim City Manager Oel Wingo was given the task of developing a budget that showed savings and reducing the millage rate.
Last Thursday she did  just that–and no jobs were lost.
Councilor Jason Cason stated it again to ensure that everyone was clear on the matter.
“We are reducing the budget without cutting employees,” he       repeated.
However, Wingo did eliminate a couple of positions that had not been filled, thereby saving the city money.
“Stephen (Bloom) and I feel a whole lot  better,” Wingo said about this draft of the budget which allows for better allocation of funds, thereby providing better transparency.
Wingo commended staff for assisting with the budget process and said she couldn’t have done it without them.
The new draft also  includes a reduction in legal services. To date in the 2012 budget, more than $106,000 has been spent on attorneys, with almost $70,000 of it allocated to personnel issues and investigations this year.
Wingo said a skilled city manager should be able to do much of the negotiations with labor unions and that again, would save the city money.
A capital improvement plan, including fleet services, is also being considered for next year’s budget. This will allow the city to be proactive rather than reactive when equipment goes bad.
The council will hold a workshop at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 11 to discuss the  potential plan.
Sept. 11 will also be the next meeting for the council. The date was changed to accommodate legal requirements for setting the millage rate.
Later Thursday afternoon, council held its regular meeting which was cancelled the previous Tuesday due to a lack of a quorum.
Cason was unanimously elected the council’s president and will hold that post until after the Sept. 25 special election to fill the  seat vacated by Jerry Robinson.  After the new council is seated, officers will be chosen again.