The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Clinton

January 31, 2013

Clinton budget discussions: Options could create city budget surplus

CLINTON — Severing agreement with Humane Society and contracting with All Pets puts budget in black

Clinton City Council members are considering several measures that would cut next years's looming budget deficit — one of which has the potential to singlehandedly move the budget from deficit to small surplus.

During the city's third of six budget workshops, Interim City Administrator Jessica Kinser on Wednesday presented possible money-saving options that would chisel away at the $71,879 deficit anticipated for fiscal year 2014.

Severing the recently approved $120,000 contract with the Clinton Humane Society and instead contracting with All Pets Inc. has the highest potential savings. With a projected $80,000 separating the recently approved subsidy and the one proposed by the local vet, the deficit would be eliminated. This option would bring the budget to a $8,121 surplus.  

“To put in real terms, if we approve this our deficit goes away,” Mayor Mark Vulich said. “In one action.”

The contract with the Humane Society allows either party to quit the agreement within 30 days. In addition to pursuing a contract with All Pets Inc., the council also decided to form a committee that would explore other money-saving options related to animal control. That committee has not yet met, leaving the potential savings unknown.  

Building permit fee increases could also have a positive impact on the budget if they are approved by the City Council on Feb.12. The anticipated revenue from this fund is $30,000. The outcome of the City Council vote won’t be known until the final budget session.  

City officials could also limit their training and travel to conferences in order to realize some savings. However, the specifics of what the $100,800 budgeted to these two items were not available at Wednesday's meeting for members to discuss.

“I will say training and conferences won’t be able to knock this out on its own unless we are completely reducing travel down to specific departments,” Kinser said.

A final cost-saving proposal calls for a 15 percent suggested wage increase for library employees to be lowered to 10 percent. According to Kinser and Library Director Amy Birtell, a large disparity exists between what library employees and the city’s other non-union employees earn.

“We need to support our people. We need to support the people who work at the library,” Birtell said. “We cannot hire qualified people at the wages we have now.”

If the 10 percent rather than the 15 percent raise was chosen, it would save $27,361.  

With a number of questions yet to be answered, the council did not decide which options to pursue.

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