Though Mayor Art promises hard choices on the city budget in the days ahead, the steps taken so far are likely to attract little attention.
Perhaps the most visible money-saving step so far is that police officers are occasionally doubling up in a single cruiser to save the cost of putting each of them in a separate car.
Mayor Art Ward said that he is wading through a lengthy series of possible budget cuts submitted last week by city department heads – each was told to list at least 10 approved items that could be trimmed – but hasn’t acted on them yet.
He called it “an onoing process that’s being addressed on a daily basis.”
But some ideas are clearly contemplated since Ward said he plans to meet with municipal unions in the next few weeks to see if changes can be made that might run afoul of existing agreements.
Ward said the city is trying to hold the line on its $172 million budget in part to ensure that next year’s spending plan doesn’t send taxpayers reeling.
Ward said that he’s already clamped down on sending city workers to many seminars and conferences – generally allowing only those required for certification and accreditation.
He said that public works is trying to consolidate its trucks’ trips by, for example, picking up bulk waste from nearby residents on the same day.
In addition, the city has some positions that have been left deliberately empty to save money, the mayor said.
Ward said he’s also aiming to cut down on fuel use, though he said he discovered recently that comparing the use month to month only looked good until he pulled out the reports from a year earlier and found the city is using “significantly more” fuel now.“I wasn’t happy,” Ward added.
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