Thursday, July 10, 2003

Monroe facing cuts even with tax increase

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

MONROE - Cuts will be made in this city's 2004 budget regardless of the outcome of any ballot issue voters may be asked to approve.

"We will have something on the ballot. What that will be, we don't know yet," said William Brock, acting city manager. "If everything passes in our favor, we still need to retrench. There will be cuts."

City leaders had been considering a 4.84-mill property tax or an increase in the income tax from 1 percent to 1.5 percent, either of which would bring about $1.4 million to the city.

The extra money is needed after officials learned last month that cash reserves had been depleted by more than $1 million and the city faced an estimated deficit of $5 million in its annual operating budget of $10.5 million. Officials have blamed the former city manager and the former finance director for the financial mess.

Officials here won't decide what to put on the Nov. 4 ballot until after a citizens finance review group has a chance to make recommendations. It has met once already and is set to meet again at 6:30 p.m. Monday in City Hall.

Council got a glimpse of the 2004 budget during a tax budget hearing and adoption Tuesday. Brock presented a fund-by-fund estimate of revenue and planned expenses.

The city, he said, is anticipating revenues of nearly $11.7 million and expenses of $11.5 million. But that doesn't including filling open positions - including the city manager - or money for such things as street repairs.

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