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Budget hearing gets heated; small business proposal gets included

This news story was published on January 14, 2011.
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The City Council and Mayor Eric Bookmeyer met for a work session Thursday night at City Hall to discuss next years operating budget. The discussion got heated at times. Video included.|The Mason City City Council and Mayor Eric Bookmeyer met for a work session Thursday night to take a look at next years operating budget. The proposed budget from City departments had a deficit of $206,500.

City Administrator Brent Trout brought forward a balanced budget, using no reserves, and outlined which departments were taking cuts, and how large the cuts would be. Councilman Max Weaver told Trout that he didn’t direct Trout to bring a budget forward that did not use City reserve funds.

“This $206,000 we pared down to nothing. We’re going to come back with 7-8 departments with budget amendments,” Weaver said.

“If you want to utilize reserves, you utilize reserves,” Trout said.

“Who directed you for a general fund to be balanced?” Weaver asked.

Weaver produced the minutes from a September 21, 2010 Council meeting where a vote was taken on whether or not reserves should not be used in the following year’s budget. He said the voted failed on a 3-3 vote. “Now you’re saying you’ve been given direction not to use reserves, and I’m saying I didn’t give it to you.”

“I have the revenues I have to work with, and that’s where I go,” Trout responded.

As far as extras in the budget, the Council gave the OK to a proposed plan to help small businesses in Mason City called the Mason City Microenterprise Initiative. The start-up cost is $15,000 which will be coming out of the general fund.

The Mayor’s “lean” program took a hit when the Council decided not to fund it with $9,000 that would be used to pay a consultant to tell the City how to save money and be more efficient. “Isn’t that what we’re doing here tonight, being lean?” Councilman Don Nelson asked.

View video of the meeting:

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