Wellington focuses on city budget shortfall
On May 27, the Wellington council met to discuss and tentatively approve the city budget for 2010.
While it was not the only item on the agenda, there was cause for concern among councilmembers because of a shortfall in funds.
With the tentative budget being $185,400 less than last year, the city has been forced to cut back on many services.
Examples of the services include city parks, class C road chip sealing and the school crossing guard, with further cuts are still pending.
The city is short nearly $165,000 in sales tax alone, which accounts for nearly 21 percent of the overall general fund, according to the tentative budget. Clearly money will be tight, however, a long term solid solution is yet to be found, because the sales tax is not expected to to return since, the state legislature banned sales tax on mining equipment, according to city recorder Ken Powell. Joy Mining Machinery was a great contributer to the sales tax in Wellington until the past year.
The council discussed a variety of actions to help decrease strain on the budget, including the laying off of staff and raising city service rates. Although some council members differed on opinion, it was clear that they had "to do something quick," said council member Glenn Wells. Both options do not seem favorable to the council. Ken Powell, who presented the budget, was also not in favor of raising rates and stated during the meeting that he believes citizens in Wellington expect their city to be run as cheaply as possible. "Maybe this is a good thing," said council member Paula Noyes." We can see what we can do with less."
One option for a possible rate increase is the city irrigation fund. Brought up by Wells, who said the $12 per month fund has been in debt for six years and is in need of an increase, but added that now might not be a good time to raise it. "Eventually we will have to bite the bullet." said Wells. As for laying off staff, Powell said that the goal is not to at this point, but another option was to cut current employees wages through insurance, by increasing what they pay for insurance. According to Mayor Karl Housekeeper, the rates would rise $160 per month for people without children, and $64 per month, for people with children.
The tentative budget will be reviewed and approved at the next Wellington council meeting.
"We are legally bound to balance the budget," said Councilmember Kirk Tatton.
Also discussed was the July 24 celebration. The city is looking for additional funding and volunteers to help set up the Pioneer Day events.
"We only got money for advertising," reported Tatton reported about the city's application to the Carbon County Restaurant Tax Advisory Board.
The celebration will be discussed in more detail at a later meeting.