Everything is on the table: raises for Lee’s Summit employees, police and fire budgets, as the city looks at trimming about $1.8 million from next year’s budget.
City Manager Steve Arbo and the City Council’s Budget Committee met Jan. 22 to begin working on the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Arbo is responsible for presenting a budget to the full council, but is working with the committee to come up directions for cutting the about $58 million general fund to balance revenue with expenditures.
The city’s 5-year fiscal model predicts a $1.8 million deficit for that fiscal year those after, based on current programs, a merit raise pool for employees and continuation of its health plans.
The city had expected the deficit based on current trends of sales taxes and property taxes, which are not growing as fast as expenses.
Arbo said he has set targets for cuts in these areas:
• Administration, law and human resources $428,000
• Codes, planning and development $178,000
• Fire $200,000
• Police $200,000
• Public Works $199,665
• General reductions $604,705
More details on the cuts have not been decided or released.
Arbo said the city staff is looking for ways to be efficient, but at that level of cuts there will be an impact on services.
Budget Committee Chairman Bob Johnson said the committee should give Arbo some ideas of its priorities.
Council member Derek Holland said that healthcare coverage is one of the areas where the city is seeing its cost grow fastest.
“Health care is eating our lunch,” Holland said. “We can’t absorb all the costs, we’re going to have to ask our employees to contribute to the cost of health care.”
Johnson also said the city might have to look at the city’s raise pool and money it allocates to groups like the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce for services.
Johnson said he doesn’t want the budget to be balanced only “on the backs of employees.”
“Everything is on the table,” he said.
Other members, Rob Binney, Allan Gray and David Mosby, agreed the city needs to compare the pay scales and benefits offered with other cities and private sector.
Holland and Gray said that even though the city faces a budget crunch, it should step up its efforts for economic development, allocating at least another $200,000 to that effort.
Holland said he’d like to see that money be spent “in-house” by the city.