The Brainerd city staff provided a list of options for slicing into the budget in response to the state cutting $317,224 in local government aid in 2008.
City staff members met on Dec. 22 to talk about the cuts and potential adjustments for 2009. Monday City Administrator Dan Vogt suggested the council discuss the issue in depth at its Feb. 23 retreat.
Options to reduce the budget include such items as saving $37,500 by not getting a new police squad car and equipment, which could be reconsidered for the second half of 2009.
The fire department considered cutting phone service to the northeast fire station and switching phone providers to save about $2,000. Other options include saving $1,500 by eliminating concerts in the park. Reducing overtime, and cutting maintenance to softball fields or eliminating swimming lessons also were suggested along with a host of others for a total of $344,985 in cuts.
Council member Bob Olson said there are certain services the city needs to be careful in cutting and he wanted to keep $40,000 in the budget for seal coating for roads. Council member Anne Nelson Fisher said she also wanted to keep at least some of that in the budget.
Council member Mary Koep praised staff members for an excellent job of being proactive. The council retreat is 6:30 p.m. Feb. 23 in city hall.
Olson proposed every council member be given a few minutes at the retreat to talk about their vision for the city. Koep said she hasn't found the retreats to be very helpful. She suggested a consolidated agenda and not one with department heads giving updates. Koep said she'd like to see it as a beginning of a strategic planning session. Council President Kevin Goedker agreed saying he'd like to see what the group wants to accomplish in the next few years and ideas on handling the financial crisis.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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