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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Commissioners consider budget cuts 

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  •  Newton City commissioners will find out what a five percent across the board cut to its budget would look like at its worksession meeting at 7 tonight at city hall.
    A five percent cut would represent $1.7 million in the 2014 budget.
    The city is also hosting a budget fair today at the Newton Recreation Center, from noon until 7 p.m. Staff and commissioners will be there to answer questions and to hear public feedback on any topic.
    Later, the city will begin its worksession meeting.
    Assistant City Manager for Budget and Finance Lunda Asmani sent the numbers to the city late last week after he was asked to determine what a five percent budget cut would look like.
    In the report Asmani said various departments have been becoming more efficient in recent years, but more cuts could affect core services.
    He also gave commissioners possible scenarios that involved raising tax rates to avoid cuts.
    A five percent cut to the fire department, for example, would cut out $270,933. To get there they could eliminate three firefighters, a billing clerk and reduce overtime. He said this would mean there would be fewer people available, and while a crew is out on call, there would be no one available for another call.
    Fire Chief Mark Willis wrote, "There will be consequences and reductions in service, and increased safety risks to our personnel and those we serve," in comments to the commission about the proposed cuts.
    The police department is another major funding category and a five-percent cut there would mean $210,911. This could be done by eliminating a detective, a dispatcher, reducing overtime and reducing prisoner care.
    A memo from the police department says these cuts will result in fewer patrols and a slowdown in processing reports.
    Newton City commisioners will continue to discuss the budget for next year and pass it later in the summer.
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