Deadline looms for deficit plan

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — Once again, Taylor city officials face an extended deadline to prepare a deficit reduction plan or risk takeover by state emergency financial management. A special election for potential revenue has been cancelled, and officials expect the final decisions on layoffs will wait until next month.

Originally, state treasury officials imposed a February deadline for the Taylor City Council to present a plan for eliminating a projected deficit of $5 million within five years. Multiple meetings and study sessions since have failed to itemize the needed cuts, and twice the city council requested a deadline. A plan is now required by April 9, to include an additional $650,000 deficit recently discovered in the city’s golf course fund.

Prospects for bringing in revenue to offset further cuts will not include a previously-approved May 8 special election asking voters for a Headlee amendment override. On May 9 the City Council voted to rescind the ballot question they previously approved in February.

After a study session held Wednesday, City Council Chair Cheryl Burke said the bottom line lies in cuts, and any further delay will result in even deeper eliminations, including city job.

“The state was very firm: Don’t show us anything but cuts,” Burke said. “That’s what they want to see.”

Burke said after last week’s study session that she doesn’t expect an approved plan following this week’s regular meeting on Tuesday, and that the decision will wait until the April 3 meeting.

“The council has to vote on it, but they say they need more time,” Burke said.

Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand reminded council that a delay in submitting the plan — and anticipated job eliminations — only adds to the deficit as benefits and salaries continue for another month. The administration presented a plan that included layoffs from every department except police — which has already been reduced to minimum staffing — although Burke said specific job eliminations were not discussed.

Burke said the delay may be counter-productive and will simply stall the inevitable outcome.

“The only thing that’s going to get us out of this situation is to take action,” Burke said. “If you don’t have money you have to cut spending now, not next month.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)

Tags: