With the economy in turmoil, Mayor Art Ward told department heads "there are no limits to the conservation methods that we're going to have to employ" to keep spending down.
Every city supervisor is under orders to tell the mayor 10 things in this year's spending plan that could be axed if necessary.
"People have to cut back and so does government," Ward said.
Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski said,"We have to freeze, really, almost everything."
Both Ward and Miecznikowski said that capital projects -- including the school plan, the rest of Rockwell Park's renovation and much more -- may to wait for better times.
Miecznikowski said the city can pursue "only the bare necessities of what's needed."
"The situation today is that we don't have a lot of choices anymore," Ward said.
He said the "total impact" of the financial meltdown is only beginning to be felt and that every day is bringing to light more problems that have to be dealt with.
Ward said that concern "is only growing deeper and deeper" as the magnitude of the crisis becomes clearer.
The mayor said that everybody needs to recognize that "all of us" are in the same boat and that sacrifices must be shared in order "to deal with it responsibly."
"I will call for actions that were never contemplated before," Ward said, without specifying what might be on the table.
Ward said that discussions about the school project are continuing as officials try to assess the impact of the bonding problems and the state's own fiscal woes, which could torpedo the plan even if Bristol can come up with its share of the money.
"We all recognize the need for the schools, but the decision's going to come down to the ability fo the taxpayer to pay," Ward said.
At this point, he said, there's not enough information to make a firm decision one way or another.
"Anything and everything is subject to reconsideration," Ward added. "You can't solidify anything."
Miecznikowski said he's "never seen anything like this in all my years" and can't predict what might be required of city government.
But, he said, there's no doubt that next year's budget can't go up more than minimally and "everyone will have to bite the bullet" to pull through these hard times.
"It's going to be tough for everyone," Miecznikowski said.
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