This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or email@example.com.
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Furloughs could be lifted for city employees
Fredericksburg officials appear to have found a way to eliminate most of the furlough days proposed in next year’s budget.
City Manager Beverly Cameron and Assistant City Manager Mark Whitley told council members at their budget work session tonight that some revenue sources are looking better–the state budget wasn’t as bad as expected, and the BPOL and machinery and tools tax projections have each been bumped up by $100,000.
The city is still looking at significantly higher insurance costs for next year, so some of those gains will be canceled out, but there’s enough on the positive side for Cameron and Whitley to recommend some new spending for next year.
The biggest item – eliminating three of the four furlough days that were proposed for city employees. These four days amounted to a 1.5 percent pay cut for city staff, and they saved $140,000 in the spending plan. Whitley said the city would eliminate the first three furlough days that had been scheduled (those in July, October and February). These were to be days when City Hall was closed.
It’s possible that city staff could revise the budget mid-year to eliminate the fourth furlough day, scheduled for June.
Councilman Matt Kelly suggested that the city consider cutting its contribution to the Rappahannock Regional Jail by $84,000–the city’s share of the cost of retention bonuses for jail employees next year–to make up for the fourth furlough day. It’s not clear yet what the legal ramifications for the city would be if the council agreed to this.
In other budget news, expect an interesting discussion Tuesday night, when the School Board and City Council sit down to talk budget.
Councilman Brad Ellis said tonight that he’d like to reduce the city’s contribution to the schools by $174,000. He can’t tell the schools how to spend that money, but he suggested the savings can be found by cutting down on mileage and advertising costs, and by cutting all administrative salaries by 5 percent.
Mayor Tom Tomzak has said before that he’d like to explore cuts to school administrative costs. Tonight, he said:
“When I see them asking for a 2 percent pay raise and we’re talking about furloughs … We’re the ones who have to squeeze the money out of the taxpayers, not the School Board.”
There was a little more of the annual fight over nonprofit funding, but no resolution. Expect council members to actually have to take up-or-down votes on some of these groups later on this month.