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Deep city cuts could impact all departments

Every city department could suffer under a plan for nearly $300,000 in cuts the Perham City Council is considering for 2009-2010.

Extreme cuts, which are listed as options in the city plan, include eliminating the police department and ending the annual $20,675 contribution to the senior citizen center.

The first round of cuts would reduce 2009 budget expenditures by $132,000. These would include the delay of the originally-planned bike path overlay of $45,000. The park budget would be slashed by about $21,000, including a part-time, seasonal employee.

The summer recreation program, the Chamber of Commerce and the West Central Initiative Fund would all be affected in 2009--with the city considering cutting $5,000 in those contributions.

State aid cuts force city to tighten belt

The city is expecting a $82,036 reduction in Local Government Aid in 2009, according to Kelcey Klemm, city manager. This has prompted the budget-cutting spree.

Things will only get worse in 2010, as Perham is expected to lose $171,306 in state aid.

Hardest hit in 2009 would be the park department, under the present plan. Along with delaying the bike path resurfacing, the council is considering a $17,000 cut in funding for park benches, playground equipment and shelters.

The Perham Natural Gas sales position, presently held by Dave Neisen, is on the list of 2009 cuts--which would save $9,000 annually.

Deeper cuts in 2010

Cuts under consideration as part of the 2010 budget reduction plan include:

• A 2 percent reduction in budgets, across the board.

• $20,000 in summer recreation cuts.

• Another $6,500 cut in the city's contribution to the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce.

• Cut $10,000 in park improvements.

• Reduce city contribution to the Perham Area Community Center by $5,000.

• Reduce contribution to Historical Society by $2,000.

County would take on policing under one option

Falling under the "worst case scenario" category are cuts that would cut the city's contribution to the senior center, at about $20,675.

Early retirement agreements with city employees could save an unknown amount.

The police department could face cuts through layoffs and reduction in hours--or even a complete elimination of the department. An option is to contract with Otter Tail County for police protection.

Streetlight utility fee an idea for raising revenue

The other side of the budget equation is revenues.

Increasing permit and license fees; airport hangar rental; and a gambling ordinance that requires contribution to summer rec are among the revenue-increasing ideas.

A "streetlight utility fee" was also on the list, which could offset street lighting expenses by $48,700.