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City Council bracing for LGA reduction

With another reduction in Local Government Aid from the state expected in 2009, the New York Mills City Council is busy trying to trim this year's budget.

The council met Tuesday for its regular monthly meeting and discussed ways to trim what little fat is left in the city budget. Mayor Larry Hodgson said prior to the meeting each department head was asked to come up with possible savings in the areas of public works, police department, liquor store, library, and administration.

After seeing a $28,803 reduction in LGA last year, the city is scheduled for $385,676 in LGA for 2009. The city council and administration is bracing for another LGA reduction this year.

City Clerk Darla Berry provided budget information at Tuesday's council meeting which showed how possible cuts would affect the budget. For example, a 20 percent cut in LGA would amount to $77,135. A 30 percent in state aid would result in a $115,703 reduction for the NY Mills city budget. With that in mind the department heads were asked to present budget reduction ideas - from the standard cuts in hours and positions to the more drastic.

A previously adopted wage freeze will save the city an estimated $19,000 this year.

The budget reduction ideas were for discussion only on Tuesday and the council did not act on any specific cuts. Mayor Hodgson suggested the council hold a special meeting in the next couple weeks to take a closer look at the budget and possible cuts.

Possible cuts in the public works department include realistic reductions like canceling one summer position at a $3,000 savings; cancel curb/sidewalk repair ($4,000); cancel contractor sewer cleaning ($4,000); overtime reduction ($5,000). Major budget reduction ideas, although unlikely, are to close the swimming pool ($32,484) and sell the airport at market value estimated at $65,000.

Possible cuts within the police department include to eliminate weekday call time for a $4,000 savings, or eliminate all call time ($5,720); eliminate one leased vehicle ($7,056); defer radar purchase ($2,000).

Wage freeze and wage change effects in the library result in a $5,461 savings - already included in the city wage freeze total of $19,000. A reduction in library hours by four hours a week totals $4,327.

City administration savings ideas include reduction in capital expenditures ($2,000); reduce overtime budget ($1,576); increase ballroom rental rates ($1,650).

The council and administration also discussed ways to find savings in health insurance benefits, eliminating or significantly reducing overtime in all departments, and utility billing.

In 2008, comp time and overtime combined totaled about $32,000. Total overtime for all departments across all funds totals $40,089 in 2009. The council has instructed department heads to reduce overtime as much as possible.

A reduction in funds to the NYM Regional Cultural Center is also being considered. The city currently contributes $10,000 a year to the cultural center.

After discussing many possible budget reduction ideas, Mayor Hodgson said these ideas are just up for consideration at this point and will be looked at closer at a special budget meeting.