GV Council: Tough cuts needed now | TheUnion.com

GV Council: Tough cuts needed now

Grass Valley City Council’s ax is sharpened and ready to slice into the city’s budget as expenses continue to outpace revenues.

With $710,000-plus in projected cuts facing the city’s general fund over the next two years, the council called on staff to start looking through their budgets for items to cut.

This year’s total budget is slightly less than $10 million.

Staff from each of the city’s departments presented cuts at a special meeting Wednesday that could stem from their departments if they chopped their budgets by 5, 7 or 10 percent for the upcoming fiscal year.

“This meeting is a fact-finding, initial presentation of ideas meeting,” said City Administrator Dan Holler. “We’re walking through a number of potential cuts and seeing what’s acceptable to the council as a service reduction and what isn’t. We want to find structural cuts that will address our budget problems going out, so we won’t have to do this over and over again.”

Leaving vacant positions across a number of departments unfilled could be part of those options, Holler said.

Tough cuts are needed now, said City Engineer Tim Kiser, in order to reduce uncertainty faced by the city’s workforce. Salary and benefits make up more than 75 percent of the city’s budget and count for much of the increase in expenditures.

A change in the city’s financial structure is needed to reduce the possibility of future layoffs, said Mayor Lisa Swarthout. She said the threat of reductions and layoffs is a major source of anxiety for city employees, a point Kiser agreed with.

“It’s time to deal with some tough cuts now,” Kiser said. “To have some stability in the future would be beneficial to the city altogether.”

The city is projecting a total general fund revenue of $9.8 million in 2010-11, while expenses are projected to be $10.32 million.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first step in the city’s budgeting process. A final budget must be approved by the council by June.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail kmagin@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.

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