Auburn Hall Friday hours survive budget ax

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AUBURN — City offices won’t close early on Fridays next year, councilors agreed Monday.

Councilors Monday removed plans to shut Auburn Hall two hours early every Friday to cut $255,000 from the budget but kept the rest of proposed cuts — including police officers in Auburn schools — on the chopping block.

Councilors will continue discussing their fiscal year 2010-11 budget on Monday.

Councilors are reviewing a proposed budget calling for $30.9 million in spending in the next fiscal year, a 3 percent increase over the current budget. Coupled with cuts of $2.7 million in state revenues coming to the city, it would mean a 9 percent increase in property taxes and a $288 property tax increase for homes valued at $171,000.

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Councilors need to find either $3.5 million in new revenues or cut $3.5 million from the budget to keep taxes from rising at all. Councilors directed City Manager Glenn Aho to find at least $1 million in cuts. Aho did, unveiling cuts of $1.12 million that meant less snow plowing, closing city offices two hours early every Friday and having a single polling place for voters.

Aho said Monday he’s still not a fan of any of the cuts.

“I think they’re all going to hurt the city,” he said. “They’re all going to be difficult.”

He recommended reducing council’s $1 million challenge to $400,000. That would allow him to put the police officers back in the schools and fund some sort of limited spring-cleanup next year. Only three councilors supported those changes and it failed.

Aho also recommended using $600,000 from the city’s fund balances. Councilors did not vote on that measure and Aho said he’d bring it up again at a later meeting.

Aho’s cuts also do away with school resource officers, absorbing them back into the regular police patrol to cover sick time and overtime. It would save an estimated $25,000.

In an open letter to Auburn citizens sent to city councilors, news and radio stations earlier this month, Mayor Dick Gleason urged councilors to pass the budget as first presented, reinstating the proposed cuts. A number of residents attended a workshop budget discussion last week to argue for keeping the officers in the schools.

Councilors have until the end of June to finish their budget. It has to be approved at two public hearings. Councilors are scheduled to vote on the school department’s budget at Monday’s meeting.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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