City of Craig finds ways to deal with budget cuts
Craig — As citizens of Craig dive into 2015, the city’s budget takes a plunge as well.
Overall, the city budgeted $1.6 million less in expenditures than in the 2014 budget and estimated about $475,000 less in revenues.
The city’s 2014 financial numbers are still being finalized, therefore figures from last year are calculated as projections.
City officials predict that the 2015 budget will log $8.6 million in revenue and $9.8 million in expenses. To make up for the shortfall, City Manager Jim Ferree said the city will pull the remaining $1.2 million from its reserves. The reserves are made up of funds carried over from 2014.
The Craig Police Department accounts for a third of the city’s expenditures, and the police department cut more than $400,000 between 2014 and 2015.
The police department projects it spent a little more than $3.4 million in 2014, and has $3.3 million budgeted for 2015. It budgeted $3.7 million for 2014, meaning it’s projected to come in under budget.
The Road and Bridge Department accounts for about 24 percent of the city’s 2015 expenditures at $2.4 million. Between 2014 and 2015, the department shaved its budget by more than $100,000.
Parks and Recreation has the third-highest department expenditures at $1.5 million, taking up almost 15 percent of total expenditures. Parks and Recreation said goodbye to almost $55,000.
In fact, every department in the city of Craig made cuts for the 2015 budget.
Ferree said the city tries to keep 25 percent of its expected expenditures aside for the carry-over reserve each year.
“It’s not guaranteed, but that’s our goal; we’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to do that,” Ferree said
Despite all of the cuts, the city is not in a hiring freeze at the moment and it’s evaluating filling positions on a case-by-case basis.
Police Chief Walt Vanatta said even though the police department spent $300,000 less last year than budgeted, he is still down positions.
One police officer, one administrative sergeant and one community service officer position remain vacant. Community service officers enforce city codes pertaining to animal control, parking and noise, among other violations.
“Right now we’ve been kind of struggling because of the reduction in staffing, and then we had a couple of people get injured and that reduced our staffing,” Vanatta said.
The department is “just now” getting back to its normal four-day 10-hour shift schedule for officers, he said.
Recently, officers had to rotate working three 12-hour days one week and four 12-hour days the next week.
The reduction in staff is a part of the reason the number of calls responded to has dropped from last year.
Vanatta suspects the drop in calls somewhat has to do with Craig’s economy.
“With the way the economy works, construction has been less here, and they all like to drink and party and whenever. And when you have a reduction in population, you have a reduction in calls,” Vanatta said.
Some unintended consequences have come out of the city’s budget cuts. Vanatta said self-initiated activity for all officers has dropped, too.
“When you are just going from one call to another, you don’t have time to go out and do preventive stuff,” Vanatta said.
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