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Updated on Feb. 23  By an 8-1 vote the City Council voted on Feb. 22 to approve a balanced budget for fiscal year 2010-11. Nearly 50 positions were eliminated, affecting 36 people, and the remaining employees – except life-safety personnel – will have four unpaid holidays. There was no increase in the City’s portion of the property tax, but residents will see an increase in refuse and recycling fees beginning in April, and an increase in water rates is expected this year. A modest capital improvement package was also approved.

Revenues projected for the General Fund now stand at $86, 873,900 – about $2.8 million more than in projections last fall. Expenditures are now projected at $86, 578,966, leaving – if the projections are accurate – slightly less than $300,000 as “ending surplus,” presumably to be earmarked for reserves. Council members agreed to rescind the proposed 5 percent cut in the salaries of all managers and offset that expense by reducing the amount of money to be spent on staff training.

Various aldermen probed into the proposed elimination of certain positions but in the end agreed with the proposed reductions in the fleet services department (three positions) and the community development department (three positions), but decided to spare two positions in the forestry division that had been on the chopping block.

The capital improvement program (CIP) – traditionally a rolling five-year program was narrowed to a few projects – most of which will be paid by grants or state or federal money. At the Feb. 20 Citiy Council meeting, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said he recommended limiting or curtailing the issuance of general obligation bonds, because the City already has a high proportion of debt. Although Council members approved the amount of capital spending, they did not approve any specific projects, reserving that discussion for a later date.

Some uncertainties apparently will remain. Contract negotiations with some unions are ongoing, City officials say, as are discussions with both school districts about liaison police officers. The City has requested that School District 65 and School District 202 absorb the $290,000 needed for the three school liaison officers. Mr. Bobkiewicz said the City could share tax-increment financing district (TIF) funds with the school districts, which they could use to pay for the police officers. He said, though, that “nothing is in writing.”

There appeared to be a consensus among Council members that if the school districts would not pay for the police officers, the City would not pay for them either.