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Cost controls continue at NY Mills city hall

The belt continues to tighten in New York Mills, as the city officials keep on the lookout for ways to trim costs in the face of economic uncertainty.

About $26,000 was "found" at the March 9 meeting, as the council voted to refinance $670,000 in debt.

Two vacant staff positions will not be filled, at least for now, which could represent another $15,000 or more in savings.

Every buck in savings will give the city a buffer against another round of losses in state aid. New York Mills is bracing itself for another likely state aid cut; $62,000 according to the last prediction from St. Paul. The city will receive $110,000 less than it did two years ago from the state, based on the latest news, according to City Clerk Darla Berry.

Following are a few of the cost savings the council discussed at the March 9 session:

--After receiving 62 applications for an advertised public works position in February, the council decided to simply leave the position vacant. It will probably remain vacant until June.

--City economic development director, Ed Larson, announced his resignation at the February EDA meeting. The council will table discussion of a replacement until a future date. Larson worked on a contractual basis for the city, renewable every six months, at a rate of about $1,000 a month.

--The 2010 budget continues in a state of review and revision. An upcoming special meeting will assess the impact of a hiring freeze and possibly further staff reductions.

--Payroll records show that staff overtime has been nearly eliminated. For the first two months of 2010, only 32 overtime hours have been logged-compared to 130 during the same period last year. The overtime reductions alone probably saved $2,000 or more.

With the assistance of Traci Ryan, the city's financial consultant with David Drown Associates, the council repackaged $670,000 in debt-which date back to the 1997 city hall improvements.

By doing so, the city will save $26,287 through the life of the bonds-which will be paid in full in 2017.

The refinancing was approved unanimously by the New York Mills council.