The city of Argo is facing nearly $200,000 in budget cuts to meet its expected revenues, according to the council’s discussions at Monday night’s meeting.
The council held a one-hour work session Monday prior to its regular meeting. Fiscal Year 2013 began Oct. 1, but the council held off on passing a budget pending the arrival of three new council members (Betty Bradley, Ann Brown and Scott Como).
Mayor Paul Jennings went over the budget line by line Monday with the council, and said the city’s expected revenue for Fiscal Year 2013 is just over $960,000, of which only 90 percent (roughly $864,000) is available for spending. Requests for the city in the coming fiscal year total up to over $1 million.
“Everything in the budget (as requested) is good,” Jennings said. “The thing is, where do you cut it?”
Among new expenses for FY13, Jennings has requested hiring two additional personnel — a part-time clerk and an additional worker to cut grass during the summer — and pay increases for court clerk Andrea Jennings and city clerk Tom Suggs.
“There’s no way Tommy can keep cutting our grass and continue doing what he’s doing for us,” Jennings said. “It’s possible we could let the (additional) clerk be the clerk for the zoning board, just a dedicated clerk for that board.”
The city is also budgeting for increases in the cost of health insurance for its employees, and increases in pay for its municipal judge and municipal prosecutor. Brown also brought up the possibility of adding lights to the outside of the city’s municipal complex.
“I don’t think we can afford to stay in the dark,” she said. “My house is better lit than it is here.”
Councilman Bill Rutledge said that project may have to be put on hold.
“If we start adding to our cost right now, we’ll be making a mistake,” Rutledge said. “We’re going to need to cut things, not add to them.
“I think (the lights) is something we can work on as time goes on. We need to look at the overall picture and then approach it.”
Jennings also voted against the city’s participation in the statewide Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, in February, owing to budgetary concerns.
“That knife cuts both ways,” he said. “We’re sitting here looking for revenue, and then we’re going to have a weekend where we don’t collect any sales tax revenue.”
The rest of the council voted to participate in the holiday. Jennings encouraged them all to come back to the next meeting — Wednesday, Dec. 19 — with ideas of where to cut.
“These are just Paul’s ideas,” Jennings said. “Everybody needs to do some thinking about it and see where we stand.”
In other business, the council:
• Approved city expenditures and payroll.
• Approved the minutes of the Nov. 5 organizational meeting, the Nov. 5 regular meeting and the Nov. 21 regular meeting.