Tag Archives: budget cuts

Tuesday’s big cuts will mean big changes

On Tuesday night, city funding for arts and cultural organizations, community access television and a key human service organization was cut to zero.

A total of $763,000 was cut community service organizations by a sharply divided City Council.

The cuts mean no funding for public art, no more BITV-televised city meetings and possibly no more Health, Housing and Human Services Council.

No doubt there larger repercussions. It’s a sure thing that jobs in these and possibly other organizations will be lost, and that popular and important programs will be reduced or disappear completely.

Funding for the various organizations that provide assistance to disadvantaged residents, including Helpline House, the Boys & Girls Club, Bainbridge Youth Services and the Bainbridge Island Special Needs Foundation, was reduced from $320,000 to approximately $240,000.

Read more about the cuts HERE.

I’ve put in some calls to the affected organizations and hope to follow up with stories this week.

A few arts groups and their supporters have sent out messages today urging islanders to boost their contributions to One Call for All to help fill the funding gap.

One community service spending element that actually came out of Tuesday’s meeting with more money than expected was a “communication” fund to help downtown businesses affected by the planned Winslow Way reconstruction project. The fund rose from $35,000 to $40,000. How the fund will be spent will be decided by the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association (which had its entire $29,500 funding request denied on Tuesday). Mayor Bob Scales said BIDA may spend the Winslow Way fund on signs, temporary parking and various other strategies that encourage shoppers to patronize Winslow shops during the project.

“We’re imposing a vary worrisome event next year,” Councilman Barry Peters said of the Winslow Way project. “We need to communicate to our island to support our downtown in a year of great stress.”

City dumps its attorney to save on legal expenses

In a surprise move, the city cut its staff attorney position to reduce its legal expenses.

The job was created in 2005 to save the city money, tackle internal legal issues and stem the growing number of lawsuits against the city.

The city’s legal woes don’t seem to have abated much (see Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance lawsuit), but the city has a perhaps bigger challenge: sharply declining revenues and a nearly empty bank account.

Read my story HERE.

Bainbridge schools facing $1 million in cuts

The Bainbridge school board will begin a new round of budget cuts on Thursday to offset an estimated $1 million in losses for upcoming school year.

School administrators say they’ll almost certainly cut staff and reduce programs.

This latest round of cuts is compounded by a 10 percent reduction spread over the last two years.

School administrators are planning a 10-minute discussion on what they’re calling a “fiscal emergency” at Thursday’s board meeting (5:30 p.m. at the Bainbridge High School library).

For a roundup of school cuts across the county, read Marietta Nelson’s story HERE.

New poll: Where would you have made budget cuts?

Head over to the right column to cast your vote on where the City Council should have larger cuts to the 2010 budget.

You can see the latest list of cuts here. The council is scheduled to approve the reduced budget at tonight’s meeting.

As for the Bainbridge Conversation’s last poll, results showed strong opposition to the Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance lawsuit. Fifty-eight percent of the 178 votes cast were against it, and 42 percent were for it.

City looking to save money by keeping key positions open

The City Council may keep five positions open during the coming year as part of an effort to cut $1 million from the 2010 budget.

The public works director and city engineer are among the jobs that could remain unfilled.

Some council members want to go further.

“I’d like to make staffing cuts rather than holding positions vacant,” said Mayor Bob Scales during a Monday budget meeting. He’s proposing that the deputy planning director and the city engineer positions be combined, and that the deputy police chief job be eliminated.

For more, click here.

Details on city budget cuts will have to wait

Details on how the City Council plans to make an estimated $1 million worth of budget cuts will have to wait until the end of the month.

The council, which was scheduled on Wednesday to delve into the specifics of where reductions would be made, opted to wait until more information is available.

Mayor Bob Scales said several department heads were on vacation, making it difficult to get answers about how proposed cuts to the 2010 budget would impact city services.

The council indicated they’d like to explore cuts to the police and information technology departments, and that trimming support for community groups won’t come easy.

For more, head over here.

School board approves 18 job cuts, including 12 teachers

The Bainbridge Island School Board unanimously passed a resolution Thursday evening to cut 12 teachers and six other certified positions.

The district is trying to offset an expected $2.2 million budget shortfall for the 2009-2010 school year.

Reductions include seven teachers in kindergarten through sixth grades and the equivalent of four teachers in seventh through 12th grades. An additional teaching position devoted to curriculum development will also be lost.

Other positions will be trimmed from the administrative, counseling, nursing, special education, home school support and multicultural education rosters.

The staffing reduction is likely the largest in the district’s history, Bainbridge Superintendent Faith Chapel said.

Bainbridge isn’t alone. Bremerton and North Kitsap school districts joined Bainbridge last week in issuing laying off notices for about three dozen teachers.

Read our story on the county-wide school cuts here.

Between $3-6 million in city budget cuts loom

Look below for my story on last night’s City Council endorsement of a giant reduction in city spending. Staff cuts are a sure thing, according the administration.

The City Council aimed for the ballpark rather than the bulls-eye when endorsing a dollar amount that will guide a new round of budget cuts.

Somewhere between $3-6 million in reductions loom ahead, making it a near certainty that several city employees and services will have to go.

“It’s hard, but history does show we’ve been overly optimistic,” said Councilwoman Debbie Vancil, referring to recent budget reductions the city’s been forced to make as revenues spiraled downward.

The city’s new financial outlook is based on worst-case scenario projections provided by City Administrator Mark Dombroski last week.

While Dombroski predicted the city may see shortfalls of $2.4 million in tax-based revenues and about $1 million in other areas, some councilors wanted to prepare for even greater losses.

Councilman Bill Knobloch proposed the biggest cuts, arguing that the city should cut $7 million from the budget to keep the city’s finances solid and put over $2 million in reserve.

Some city staff expressed confusion about how to factor in the wide ranging $3-6 million
amount as they look at how to make reductions.

Steering clear of multiple reduction scenarios, Dombroski said he’ll present to the council next Wednesday a detailed breakdown – “from staff to supplies” – of how much each of the departments spend. From there, the council can determine where to make cuts.

“I want to avoid a tennis game where I lob up numbers and sped the next two months going back and forth with the council while the economy continues to deteriorate,” Dombroski said.

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Ten-day City Hall closure approved

The City Council this morning approved a 10-day City Hall closure agreement with the city workers’ union.

The nonconsecutive furlough days are expected to save the city about $370,000 next year, and will help the city stave off another round of job cuts. Employees will receive no pay during furlough.

“This is the creative kind of problem-solving we need,” Councilwoman Hilary Franz said after the agreement was unanimously approved.

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Cutting costs by closing City Hall’s doors

Shutting down City Hall and sending workers home for 10 days next year may save enough money to avoid a new round of staff cuts.

“Instead of more permanent layoffs, this is a tool that a number of cities are using to balance budgets,” said Mayor Darlene Kordonowy.

Following the lead of King County, the city may institute unpaid staff furloughs to fill growing budget gaps. The City Council on Wednesday will consider approval of a mayor-backed agreement with city workers that would shut down all nonessential city services for 10 days spread throughout the year, typically on Fridays.

Under the proposal, the city would save an estimated $371,000 in 2009 and $387,000 in 2010.

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