By Winston Chua
ARCADIA – The ArcadiaCity Council has made clear plans to brace itself for economically challengingtimes. Facing what was a $2.6 milliondeficit, councilpersons took action to make sure the city is not spending morethan it is taking in.
For the city council, that meant freezing positionsand updating fees to adjust for the staggering economy. It also meant cuttingsome of the benefits that city workers, because of their tenure, were entitledto for the coming fiscal year.
“The economy hits the taxpayer and government hard ina rough time like this,” said Arcadia Mayor Pro Tem Peter Amundson. Thisposition means that Amundson is authorized to fill in for Arcadia Mayor JohnWuo in his absences. Both Amundson and the council are known for being fiscallyconservative, but even their past decisions could not avoid the debilitatingeffects of the economic crisis.
About three quarters of the way through the lastfiscal year, the Arcadia City Council noted that they would have less incomeand sales taxes than they had anticipated.
As a result, Amundson and the council asked all citydepartments to cut about 5 percent of the budget.
“We wanted to cut portions of the departments thatwill not be bring hurt to the community,” said Amundson.
Amudnson said that despite the broad-reaching cutsproposed in the new budgets that there is “nothing in the budget that citydepartment heads could not live with.”
The city council, in wanting to make the new fiscalyears as painless as possible, chose not to open new positions or increasesalaries in certain departments, even though certain city positions were up forpay raises. Benefits were eliminated and increases that employees were entitledto were left off the table to close the budget gap. These cuts closed the city deficitto around $2.3 million.
To pay for the around $300,000 that was stilloutstanding, the city tapped into its reserves. More than $7 million in reservemoney is set aside for emergency uses.
The city council said that they did everything, even“cutting to the bone” the new budget for 2009 – 2010.
The city council must balance the budget because ithas pledged to do so in its City Charter. That charter states that “the totalof proposed expenditures shall not exceed the total of estimated income plusavailable reserves.”
He said it is the responsibility of the council toact as wise caretakers of the city’s money and that the council did not waituntil the end of the fiscal year to bring about the necessary changes to thenew year’s budget.
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