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Archive for Wednesday, December 11, 2002

City commissioners delay budget decisions

December 11, 2002

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Lawrence city commissioners will wait several weeks before slashing the 2003 budget.

Commissioners said Tuesday that they wanted to see more details about the proposed reductions, and they said they may preserve some new city jobs that appeared headed for the chopping block.

But they said some budget pain was inevitable after Gov. Bill Graves' decision last month to eliminate state aid to cities and counties " a move city officials say will cost Lawrence as much as $1.38 million next year.

"We're just in an awful position," Mayor Sue Hack said. "There's no two ways about it."

Last week, City Manager Mike Wildgen unveiled a list of cuts to make up for the shortfall: newly created jobs would have been put on ice at least until May, replacement of departed employees would have been slowed to a standstill and several initiatives would have been delayed.

Wildgen did not provide specific dollar amounts that would be saved with each action. Commissioners on Tuesday said they wanted to see the details.

And Hack said she was reluctant to eliminate one new city job commissioners created for 2003: long-range planner for the planning department.

She said commissioners in the past year have given the department an increasingly heavy workload.

"I really believe we are continually dumping on that department," Hack said. "It would be nice if they had some help."

Wildgen said he would report back at the commission's Dec. 30 meeting. And he warned that legislators could choose to further restrict gasoline tax and alcohol tax funds that currently are shared with cities and counties.

"The state," he said, "may not be done with us yet."

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