Carbondale mulls budget cuts
CARBONDALE ” Carbondale trustees will consider cutting another $618,000 in “nonessential” spending from the town’s 2009 budget, as general fund revenues continue to fall below projections.
February sales tax revenues came in 6.7 percent below last year, putting Carbondale sales taxes on track to decline 7.5 percent by the end of the first quarter and perhaps as much as 8.75 percent by year end, according to a monthly financial report that will be a major topic of discussion at Tuesday night’s regular town council meeting.
The town saw sales taxes decrease by 5.58 percent and 5.4 percent in December and January, respectively. Carbondale’s 2009 budget projected a 5 percent decline in sales tax revenues, which account for about 60 percent of the town’s general fund.
“These reports and larger national economic news points to this trend accelerating, and it would not be surprising to see our March report down 8 percent to 10 percent,” reads the report, prepared by town Finance Director Nancy Barnett and Town Manager Tom Baker.
Proposed cuts include continuing a hiring and salary freeze already in place through the remainder of the year, for a savings of $215,000.
The town would also defer about $255,000 in engineering and construction costs for several capital projects, including $50,000 to improve traffic circulation around local schools.
Additional budget cuts if revenues fall below even the latest projections could include staff furloughs, pay cuts, reduced services and other measures. However, such cuts likely wouldn’t happen until 2010.
“This is more of a planning and strategy session to find out what the triggers are, and when we should act,” Mayor Michael Hassig said. “We’ve made fairly considerable adjustments in the present 2009 budget, but are they going to prove adequate, we can’t say.
“We may be looking at more belt-tightening come September (when 2010 budget planning begins),” he said.
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A majority of users of the popular Red Hill Recreation Area north of Carbondale say they would be OK with closing the trails during the muddiest times of the year.