Three million dollars and counting - that's how much officials need to make up for the current fiscal year, FY 2010.
At their first public meeting since the inauguration, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen heard from budget directors about potential solutions to the shortfall.
"I am looking under every rock, nook and cranny, and it's going to be a combination of a lot of things,” says Mayor Randy McClement. “From here on out that is what we will talk about, where we find the money.”
One place the money won't come from is tax revenue. The city says income taxes and residential taxes have fallen drastically and even more than predicted.
Karen Young is the president of the Board of Aldermen. She says, “I recommend that at some point we put together a cross functional team, because if we are going to be making cuts, the more criticism we will have. We should get more input to help educate and cut down on miscommunication.”
The city is already working to get the Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NACS) involved to learn how cuts will affect each of the communities.
Mayor McClement says, "We're all looking at everything brand new and because of that we are all looking at all the different options. We're not having the attitude of ‘we tried that we can't do it.’ We haven't tried anything."
But to close this fiscal year's budget, the city may have to lean on leftover money from capital improvement projects. Katie Barkdoll, the city director of budget & purchasing, says, ”A good example is our street paving maintenance program. We currently have in that program just over $1 million dollars in operating funds and that’s from this year and prior years, and it's just a balance that keeps carrying forward.”
It may be short term solution, but the administration has a long road ahead.