|BG city budget woes|
|Written by Hal Brown/Sentinel-Tribune|
|Friday, 12 June 2009 08:01|
It has been interesting to watch Bowling Green officials deal with mounting budget issues the past nine months.
Even as the worldwide financial meltdown was starting to make daily headlines, BG officials knew they would be challenged to balance the 2009 budget. The challenge is even bigger for the 2010 budget.
Council Finance Committee and Council Committee of the Whole meetings have become frequent.
Ideas have been bounced back and forth. Cuts have been made. More cuts will have to be made.
Some of those cuts won't be popular.
Both council and the administration have repeatedly said that citizens have told them they want the same level of services to which they have become accustomed.
Council has a 0.20-percent income tax increase for fire operations under consideration for the November ballot. Lesser amounts are also being talked about.
That only covers part of the problem. More than $500,000 will likely be taken from interest accounts from the electric, water and sewer funds. That has some people concerned that utility rates will increase. Water and sewer rates hikes are likely even without the city taking the interest funds, Board of Public Utility members have said.
There has also been discussion about charging a monthly trash collection fee and putting an assessment for tree trimming on the tax duplicate.
Administration officials have said that if the tax increase does not pass, there is a likelihood of at least 21 layoffs. Those positions have not been publicly identified.
A couple of city unions have agreed to new contracts without any wage hikes in 2009.
Some citizens have asked me why pay cuts don't seem to be on the table.
It's because most city employees are members of one of five unions and each contract has a clause that indicates pay cuts would require negotiations to be reopened.
However, layoffs are covered in the contract and would not require new negotiations.
Non-union employees could face pay cuts but it's unclear if council would go that route. At this point there's no indication such a step would be taken.