The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Carthage, Jasper County

April 22, 2010

More spending cuts eyed in Carthage budget plans

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage officials are preparing for another year of spending cuts, Tom Short, city administrator, said Thursday.

City department heads have been told to trim spending plans, and that same message will be discussed Monday with representatives of organizations that receive funds from the city.

“Everyone has already been told not to expect any more, and to cut where they can,” Short said.

Members of the City Council’s budget committee will meet Monday with agencies that receive city funds, and on Wednesday will discuss spending plans with city department heads. The panel on Thursday will review budgets for capital projects and for Carthage Water & Electric Plant, then discuss budget proposals to be recommended for action by the full council. The city’s budget year starts July 1.

Department heads cut spending between 5 and 10 percent in this year’s budget. They have been asked “to concentrate on core services” and to submit proposed budgets with additional cutbacks for next year.

“It gets more difficult,” Short said. “Also this year, we didn’t fill some part-time positions, and we froze salaries.”

He said the budget committee at its most recent meeting agreed to spend about $1 million from city fund balances to limit the severity of spending cuts.

“No one’s sure when the recession is going to end, and we want to maintain services and not to cut any more employees,” Short said.

He said general fund revenues are estimated at nearly $6.9 million next fiscal year, compared with $7.1 million this year.

Short said general fund expenditures now are estimated at more than $12 million.

“A lot of those requests are capital improvements,” he said. “The situation is similar to last year, and that’s where most of the cuts came from.”

That list will include major construction projects, and some other capital spending such as vehicle purchases that may be put off for another year, when possible.

Short said department budgets include a 2 percent step increase in salaries for workers, but no cost-of-living increase. Last year, he said, the budget included no step increase or cost-of-living raise, and employees were required to make increased contributions to their group health and life insurance.



Schedule

The budget committee meetings next week are set for 6:30 p.m. in City Council chambers. The committee on Monday will meet with representatives of the Carthage Over-60 Center, the Carthage Chamber of Commerce, the Carthage Humane Society, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Carthage Public Library, and several baseball and softball groups.

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Carthage, Jasper County