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Sarasota Thursday, May. 20, 2010 7 years ago

City considers more job cuts

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Facing the prospect of having to cut millions more from next fiscal year’s budget, the city is weighing more job cuts, which may or may not mean layoffs.

City officials won’t hear from the property appraiser’s office for another couple of weeks, but they are anticipating a 10% decline in property values. That means a drop in property-tax revenue — the city’s main source of revenue.

Finance Director Chris Lyons estimates the city will have to cut $5.3 million from its current budget. It had to trim about $8 million from last year’s budget.

“We’re getting to the point where it’s hard to cut anymore,” said Lyons.

The city is considering a three-pronged strategy to balance the budget:

1. Eliminate positions.

2. Raise the millage rate to offset the property-tax loss.

3. Use reserve funds.

City Manager Bob Bartolotta estimates 15 to 25 jobs will be cut through a combination of layoffs, retirements and eliminating vacant positions.

Said Lyons: “You can’t not look at personnel, because it accounts for 80% of costs in the general fund.”

The city could employ the millage rollback rate, which adjusts the millage to bring in as much tax dollars as it did the previous budget year.

The reserve fund most likely to be tapped is the $2.9 million budget stabilization fund that Bartolotta created two years ago for situations such as this.

In his 30 years in city management, Bartolotta said he’s never seen economic conditions such as these.

“Most down cycles last a year or two,” he said. “We’re coming up on four years (on this cycle). It’s getting harder and harder.”

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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