The city plans to clamp down on spending even tighter to ensure it ends the next fiscal year in the black.
“We know we’re going to have one deficit. We certainly don’t want another,” city Comptroller Glenn Klocko said.
With revenues likely to be at least as bad as they were for the fiscal year that ended in June, Klocko said, “we absolutely have to take some sort of measures” to prevent another shortfall.
Though municipal leaders insist they can’t provide an estimate of the likely deficit until November, they have said the city wound up spending more than it took in during the past fiscal year.
Mayor Art Ward said the city took many steps to hold down spending, including the elimination of 16 positions and convincing unions to give back wage hikes.
“It’s not over,” he warned, because people are still hurting and the state’s coffers are empty.
Klocko said that revenues for the city are likely to “flat or maybe a bit negative” while costs keep rising for health care for employees, education and other critical areas.
The Grand List will probably go up, he said, which will help bring in more property taxes, but it won’t be enough to cover everything.
To cope with the anticipated crunch, Ward plans to tell department heads next week to squeeze every penny.
The Board of Finance expects to begin its annual budget preparations in August instead of waiting until the new years, as it normally has.
By getting “way ahead of the game,” Klocko said, “we can tackle it slowly.”
“It’s going to be so important to start earlier,” the comptroller said.
Klocko said that it would hurt
Given the expectation that tens of millions of dollars in school bonds will be necessary in a couple of years, hanging on to the best possible bond rating is critical, officials said.
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