AUBURN – It’s time for belt-tightening at the Auburn City Building.

City Manager Pat Finnigan enacted a spending freeze for all city departments Wednesday.

That freeze affects all discretionary spending – office supplies, staff overtime and out-of-town travel through June 30. That’s when the city’s fiscal year 2003-2004 budget is scheduled to begin.

“We still have to pay our light bills, but we don’t have to buy everyone new pens,” Finnigan said. “We’re just saying we won’t be spending any more than we must. We looked at where we were going, financially, and we asked everybody to cut their discretionary spending.”

Finnigan said she and her staff are currently writing next year’s budget for City Council review. Finnigan said that budget should be made public later this month, but it has influenced her decision.

“We were lucky this year with the state budget,” Finnigan said. “We didn’t have any cuts we weren’t expecting, but we don’t know if that will be the case next year. It’s just that every dollar we save now, that’s money we have at our disposal, in the next year’s budget.”

Last year, councilors approved an $18.5 million operations budget for the city.

“We’re currently writing our third quarter financial report, and we’re right about on schedule,” she said. “Things are so tight already, it’s not like we’re likely to get a lot of savings. But if you don’t save what you can, you don’t have that resource next year.”

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