Grayson City Council still hadn't come to a conclusion on their budget negotiations at their July 9 regular meeting, but they did make some changes, including adding back in the two employees that police chief Kevin McDavid said he would cut to meet the budget request and making deep cuts to the road department, which had initially been set to have a budget increase for the next fiscal year.

The city was attempting to cut the budget by $170,000 which mayor George Steele planned to meet by asking fire and police to each cut their budgets by $70,000 and by cutting administrative expenditures by $30,000.

The projected budget presented on Tuesday, however, only cut administrative spending by $17,002.81 from the council's first projected budget. Police spending actually increased, from $1,325,779.33 in the first budget to $1,365,864.87 in the second, mostly due to a projected jump in retirement expenditures, from $116,683.66 to $158,745.11. Though McDavid still planned to leave those positions vacant Steele had the employees added back into the budget and hopes that the police department can make changes that will eliminate extra overtime. Both the previous and the revised budget include $50,000 for projected overtime, which is down from $62,000 in the previous fiscal year.

Projected fire department expenditures decreased from $394,507.73 in the initial projection to $359,648.58 in the most recent projection, but that is still a far cry from the $70,000 Steele asked the department to trim. Most of those savings come from the department's decision to cut reimbursement for travel, lodging and meals during training and a one thousand dollar cut to training materials, from $1,600 in the 2018-2019 budget to $600 in the projected 2019-2020 budget.

The street department, meanwhile, took a large hit, going from $520,134.16 in the first projection to $481,534.16 in the second projected budget. This is still an increase of over $20,000 from their 2018-2019 budget, which was $461,352.

"We cut the street department to the bone," Steele said of the new projection, but he also reassured the department that they wouldn't be expected to carry more of the burden.

"You'll have basically the same budget as last year," he told the department.

Holiday lighting displays, street resurfacing, sign and ditchline repairs, and sidewalk repair and maintenance all took hits in the department's new projected budget.

When asked about the $30,000 he had planned to cut from administration costs, Steele explained that the city was statutorily mandated to cover some of the administrative costs they initially planned to cut.

The new budget does have a slight increase in projected revenue, up to $2,660,440.75 from an initial estimate of $2,629,514.27, but this still puts the city at $76,115.64 over budget with expected total expenditures of $2,736,556.39. While this is still lower than the initial $173,807.37 over budget that the city was looking at in their first budget projection, there is still fat to trim. Steele asked the police and fire departments to meet with him during the week to work on their individual budgets.

Though the cuts are difficult, Steele said they have to be made. Revenues are down across the city, Steele said, and though he hopes the city makes more money than they are currently projecting, "you can't base a budget on optimism," he told city council.

He said every department has had the "luxury of overspending" in the past. But, he added, "we don't have that luxury (anymore)."

In other action council moved to approve a franchise agreement with Kentucky Power and rejected an interlocal agreement between the city and county for animal control based on Steele's recommendation.

Steele said that he could not recommend the city sign onto the agreement, noting that individuals in the city are already tax paying residents of the county as well, and therefore already qualify for animal control assistance from the county.

"I don't think we have to fool with this interlocal agreement," Steele said.

He said a court ruling on such matters already required the county to service people living in the city in regards to animal control.

The agreement would have required the city to reimburse animal control $75 for each dog picked up within city limits and $750 each fiscal year for spay and neuter costs, with the county supplying $1,500 towards the spay and neuter costs.

Contact the writer at jwells@journal-times.com.

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