STRUTHERS Officials wrestle with lean budget for 2005

Contracts, repairs and hiring will take hits.
STRUTHERS -- Contracting out fewer services, reduced road repairs and delaying some hiring are among the cost-cutting measures officials implemented to balance this year's city budget.
Officials continue to struggle with rising health-care costs in finalizing the $6.9 million 2005 calendar-year budget approved by the city council Wednesday night.
The budget is $389,000 less than the 2004 budget, Mayor Daniel Mamula said in a report.
"It's lean, very lean," Mamula said. "We pushed out personnel replacements until later this year." Even then, those positions could remain vacant if projected revenues fall short, he said.
About 70 percent of the city's revenue comes from its 2 percent income tax, he said.
To save money, the city is cutting back on contracting out work. For instance, workers in the city's street department will do more repair work on vehicles and the building maintenance supervisor will handle more in-house repairs at city hall, Mamula said.
Gas tax revenue
Unlike past years, there will be no general-fund contribution to the street department budget, a savings of from $60,000 to $90,000 to the general fund, Mamula said. The department is self-supporting this year because of increased revenue from gas tax receipts.
About $40,000 was cut from capital improvements, but the street department, Mamula said, "should be able to address the most-needed improvements."
A health care committee has been meeting to address health-care costs. The city's total contribution this year to health-care coverage is about $870,000.
"We're trying to contain health-care costs at 2004 levels or change the coverage to make it more manageable," Mamula said.
The budget includes no salary increases except those approved by contract or ordinance.