Brainerd's $13 million 2009 budget is $678,425 lighter.
The Brainerd City Council on Monday approved by a 4-2 vote making the cuts and informing all department heads that expenditures from cut items were frozen.
Voting against were council members Anne Nelson Fisher and Bob Olson. Council member Lucy Nesheim was absent.
City staffers on Feb. 5 presented the Personnel and Finance Committee a proposal for budget cuts and increased revenues of $669,725, which included $125,000 in wage freezes, more than $164,000 in cuts to the police department, more than $40,000 in cuts to the fire department and $50,000 in cuts to the street department.
On Monday, the Personnel and Finance Committee added $8,700 more in cuts by dropping a $4,500 payment to the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, $1,000 in temporary help for the engineering department, $3,000 for professional development and $200 from the city attorney's miscellaneous fund.
"We were very clear in committee that some of the discussions not in the cuts will remain fluid," Mary Koep, Personnel and Finance Chairwoman and council member, said. "In other words, there will be things that will change."
Olson, who had presented the committee a proposal to cut $927,321 from the budget, said the committee's recommendation for cuts wasn't enough of a start.
"I personally think we're not biting the bullet with only $678,000 in cuts," Olson said. "I think we're going to regret it."
Fisher said she opposed the budget cuts because she felt the police department should have only had one officer cut, not two. The Personnel and Finance Committee intends to revisit officer hiring in March.
The council also approved having a letter sent to legislators urging them to include funding for a Brainerd police officer as part of money the state would get in President Barack Obama's stimulus package.
The council approved sending a letter to the Legislature in order to open up discussion on state mandates for which the city has to pay. While not wanting to stop the programs, the city is looking for help from the state in making them more cost effective through the relaxation of requirements.
The mandates the city is hoping for changes on include publication and financial requirements, the 800-megahertz radio system due for implementation in a few years, union membership and service credit contributions, National Incident Management System compliance, Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, wastewater treatment standards, surface water management organizations or plans, Truth in Taxation hearings, animal control and prevailing wages.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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