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Council responds to LGA cuts

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington City Council continued revisions to the city's 2010 budget on Wednesday, cutting items and pulling from reserves to account for $474,474 in proposed cuts to its Local Government Aid payment.

The city will likely begin implementation of a street lighting utility in August, transferring the cost to residents on lighted streets through their utility bills and saving the city $50,000. The move will mean an estimated increase of about $4 a month for residential homes and about $13 for industrial and commercial buildings.

Though some areas for potential reductions are still up for discussion, council members agreed to reduce or eliminate the following: the city's proposed planner/public relations position for a savings of $38,000; health insurance for city employees, $115,000; Beach Nook subsidy, $5,000; tree purchase costs, $1,300; snow removal on the city's bike trails, $700 in fuel savings; and dandelion and weed spraying -- a change in policy means half of the parks will be sprayed each year, for a savings of $1,250.

No decisions have been made yet regarding additional cuts to city departments, though some advocated asking department heads to reduce their budgets by a specific percentage rather than dictating staff cuts.

"I think when it comes to public works and public safety, we're going to throw percentages at them and say 'You manage your budgets to make that work,'" suggested Alderman Lyle Ten Haken.

The city will also make a one-time withdrawal of $15,500 from its reserves to resurface its tennis courts, rather than paying that cost from the general fund.

It will pull about $6,500 from the Safety and Loss reserve account, where the balance tops $300,000; and also will make a one-time $50,000 withdrawal from both the Municipal Liquor Store's unreserved fund and the street overlay fund.

Not replacing a retiring police officer for at least the next nine months will save $50,000; and annual fund transfers to the City of Worthington Aquatics Center fund from the general fund will be cut from $120,000 a year to $40,000 a year for the next three years.

The Cable 3 administrative services fee will be increased for a revenue gain of $1,800; while $2,000 will be realized in snow removal cost savings due to new box blades on the snowplows.

Discussion on the remaining items -- which could produce a total savings of $691,224 when added to those items already cut--will continue at future meetings.

"As we go through this, we're still just making a list. We still have some hope that some sanity will take place at the Legislature," Alderman Ron Wood said. "We're in a planning process; none of them do we want to do."