Proposed city budget cut by $1.1 million

Published 8:48 pm Thursday, June 3, 2010

Contributing Editor

Although Washington’s City Council first asked city staff to reduce the proposed overall $62 million budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year by 2 percent, it appears ready to accept a proposed budget reduced by 1.9 percent.
Last month, the council asked staff to look at ways to reduce the proposed budget by 2 percent.
The 2 percent goal could have been met if the council had accepted all of the proposed cuts recommended by staff at the council’s budget meeting Tuesday. It rejected a proposed $122,00 cut in the proposed budget. That cut would have eliminated funding to pay for the city turning over its E-911 service to Beaufort County in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Earlier this year, the city committed to turning over the E-911 service it provides to city residents to the county.
City Manager James C. Smith and Matt Rauschenbach, the city’s finance officer, told the council that appropriation could be cut because the transfer likely would not occur in the next fiscal year but would more likely take place in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
Councilman Doug Mercer said he was not happy with staff cutting the $122,000 allocated to help facilitate the transfer from the proposed budget. Mercer said the city, earlier this year, committed itself to transferring the E-911 service to the county and that he wanted that recommended cut removed from the staff’s list of ways to reduce the budget by $1.24 million.
Councilman Gil Davis agreed, saying the $122,000 should be kept in the budget so the city can fulfill its obligation to the county concerning the transfer of the E-911 service.
Other than keeping the $122,000 in the proposed budget, the council singed off on the staff’s other recommend cuts to the proposed budget. Some of those recommendations include reducing the amount of money given to outside agencies such the Beaufort County Arts Council and the Beaufort County Boys &Girls Club, reducing funding allocated to street paving and removing a full-time officer’s position at the Washington Police Department.
Mayor Pro Tempore Bobby Roberson said the staff’s proposed budget includes “the best numbers I’ve ever seen” in regard to revenue projections. He believes the proposed spending plan does not over-estimate projected revenues as previous budgets have done.
Roberson said he’s pleased with the staff’s budget work.
“Anytime you have a new council … you’ve got to give the staff some latitude,” Roberson said, referring to three of the five council members serving their first terms.
Roberson said there’s another reason he likes the proposed budget.
“The one thing I’m happy with is we didn’t cut any positions,” Roberson said.