$1.4 million cut from city budget

Lisa Depies

The City of Geneseo will reduce its budget by $1.4 million for the next fiscal year.

During a public hearing on the budget at the city council’s June 9 meeting, aldermen learned the city’s $12 million budget is down from the $13.4 million initially budgeted the year before.

In a report to the council, city administrator Teresa Savage wrote, “The biggest obstacle in developing the fiscal year 2009-10 budget was matching departmental expenditures to the dramatic loss of sales tax revenue.”

Nearly half of the city’s revenue is from sales tax dollars, and the economy’s downturn in 2008 hit Geneseo hard.

“We expect the first quarter sales tax receipts to be below the previous year, and then to stabilize for the remainder of the year,” wrote Savage.

In addition to looking at next year’s budget, city council members also made revisions to the current budget, which ends June 30.

“In Jan. 2009, the city began a series of cost-cutting measures in response to the dramatic decline in sales tax revenue,” wrote Savage in her report. In addition to eliminating four full-time positions, department heads “were challenged to find an additional 20 percent to eliminate from their remaining budgets.

“Ultimately, reductions of $136,579 were made from the originally enacted budget to counter the $195,000 shortfall in sales tax revenue,” she said.

The budget for 2009-10 “retains most of the cuts implemented in the previous year” said Savage.

The 2009-10 budget features a wage freeze for all non-union represented employees.

“Wage increases required as a result of collective bargaining agreements in place have been retained as required by contract. Capital equipment allocations were reduced by one-half in the proposed budget,” Savage explained.

In her report, Savage wrote, “Despite having to budget for contracted wage increases, the police department was able to implement an overall decrease of more than $116,000 from the fiscal year 2009 budget. The decreases came from the 50 percent reduction in capital equipment allocation, reduction in full-time staff and resulting benefits savings and reimbursement of crossing guard wages by the Geneseo School District.”

The proposed budget also reflects the city’s merger of its street, park and cemetery department.

“The combining of personnel, supplies and maintenance functions resulted in a budget reduction of almost $94,000,” said Savage.