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Council OKs spending cuts

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Several months after talking about substantial budget cuts, the Vandalia City Council approved a spending plan for the coming fiscal year that reflects those cuts.

The council OK'd an appropriations ordinance that projects city spending to total no more than $9,972,406.

That total is $2,340,283 below the appropriations figure for the fiscal year that ended on April 30, $12,312,689.

Most notable in the cuts included in the new appropriations ordinance are fewer dollars for capital improvements and equipment purchases. For example, the appropriations do not include construction work on the inoperable raw water intake on the Kaskaskia River.

In the street department alone, the capital improvement spending has been reduced from $3,052,987 in the last fiscal year to $1.5 million in the new fiscal year. For the water department, capital improvements have been reduced from $175,000 last year to $35,000 this year.

Water plant capital improvements are estimated at $75,000, down from $178,000 last year.

The document also reflects furlough hours for city employees. The council approved 36 furlough hours for all employees last month after getting unions representing city employees to accept that cutback.

The furlough hours are expected to save the city about $40,000, according to Mayor Rick Gottman.

Jimmy Morani drafted spending reductions prior to leaving the city administrator post in the middle of last month to take a similar job in New Baden. Morani worked with Gottman, city aldermen and city department heads in coming up with a final appropriations document.

Morani told alderman that one reason for implementing cutbacks is declining revenues in recent years.

State sales tax dollars dropped by more than a quarter of a million dollars from the last fiscal year to the current fiscal year.

Also, he said, expenditures for the water and sewer fund in the new fiscal year are expected to exceed fund revenues by close to $70,000. The reason for that, Morani said, is the state’s failure to stay current on water and sewer services for Vandalia Correctional Center.

Early last month, the state owed the city more than $150,000.