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‘The blood letting is about to begin’

Although their meeting with state legislators was good, Pulaski Mayor Jeff Worrell categorized the information town officials received during a recent visit to the Virginia General Assembly as “grim.
“The blood letting is about to begin,” he said, referring to state cuts in funding to localities. He said he expects the town to be hardest hit in the area of funding for police officers and funds for street maintenance.
Nonetheless, he said, “I think towns are going to fair better than counties, but we’re all county citizens too.”
Worrell’s comments were made Tuesday evening during Pulaski Town Council’s monthly work session. During the session, Town Manager John Hawley began discussion of the 2010-11 Fiscal Year and reviewed the status of the current year’s water and sewer fund and the amount of funds being requested for the upcoming year.
Hawley said it is still early to determine how this year’s water and sewer fund revenues and expenses will equal out because the fiscal year doesn’t end for another four months. However, at present, he indicated it appears the revenue expected from the new water meter installations is going to “come in under what we projected last year.” Currently, revenue from the meters is running about $89,000 behind projections.
“In a couple of months, we’ll have a lot better idea where we stand,” he said.
As for the sewer fund revenues and expenditures projections for the coming fiscal year, Hawley said “right now we’re in the hole about $160,000.”
He summed up the coming budget process by saying, “It’s not going to be an easy budget to work on.” But he noted it’s not the first time council has been faced with a difficult budget and he is “confident” in council’s ability to address the challenges it’s going to face.
Like other localities, Hawley said “nothing is off the table” when it comes to finding a means to reach a balanced budget.
Councilman Morgan Welker made several suggestions he would like to see town council consider in order to reach a viable budget:
• Cut town council salaries by 25 percent to save the town about $7,200 per year;
• Evaluate maintenance contracts on equipment and determine which contracts can be eliminated. He suggested some equipment might be cheaper to replace than repair and that town employees might be trained to repair those that are cheaper to repair;
• Have Pulaski Senior Center, where council holds its work sessions, charge a “nominal” fee for out of town residents participating in its programs;
• Relocate the Senior Center to the rebuilt train station when it is ready so that both can be operated “simultaneously” to save on staff and so that the current building on Washington Avenue, across from the post office, can be leased or sold.
Worrell said some of Welker’s suggestions sound like they may have merit, but there is too little information at present to say for sure. He asked Welker to put the suggestions in writing for town staff.
Hawley agreed that council will have to “look at anything you can do” to balance the budget.
He said the town is going to have to start addressing some capital improvements soon, especially given this winter’s impact on public works equipment. “It’s been taking a beating this winter. We’re still pushing snow with at least one 1983 truck, so we may have to address something” this year.
Councilman Joel Burchett Jr. also asked whether the town is considering any incentives to encourage retirement for those eligible to retire, but not for early retirement. He noted one of the problems the school system faces is expending higher salaries for one person who could retire, but won’t, instead of paying two new employees about the same amount.
Councilman Robert Bopp questioned whether it is a good idea to encourage more experienced workers to retire if they still want to work, saying “a lot of times one senior person is worth two junior people.”
Worrell agreed that a lot of experience is lost when long-term employees retire.

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‘The blood letting is about to begin’

Although their meeting with state legislators was good, Pulaski Mayor Jeff Worrell categorized the information town officials received during a recent visit to the Virginia General Assembly as “grim.
“The blood letting is about to begin,” he said, referring to state cuts in funding to localities. He said he expects the town to be hardest hit in the area of funding for police officers and funds for street maintenance.
Nonetheless, he said, “I think towns are going to fair better than counties, but we’re all county citizens too.”
Worrell’s comments were made Tuesday evening during Pulaski Town Council’s monthly work session. During the session, Town Manager John Hawley began discussion of the 2010-11 Fiscal Year and reviewed the status of the current year’s water and sewer fund and the amount of funds being requested for the upcoming year.
Hawley said it is still early to determine how this year’s water and sewer fund revenues and expenses will equal out because the fiscal year doesn’t end for another four months. However, at present, he indicated it appears the revenue expected from the new water meter installations is going to “come in under what we projected last year.” Currently, revenue from the meters is running about $89,000 behind projections.
“In a couple of months, we’ll have a lot better idea where we stand,” he said.
As for the sewer fund revenues and expenditures projections for the coming fiscal year, Hawley said “right now we’re in the hole about $160,000.”
He summed up the coming budget process by saying, “It’s not going to be an easy budget to work on.” But he noted it’s not the first time council has been faced with a difficult budget and he is “confident” in council’s ability to address the challenges it’s going to face.
Like other localities, Hawley said “nothing is off the table” when it comes to finding a means to reach a balanced budget.
Councilman Morgan Welker made several suggestions he would like to see town council consider in order to reach a viable budget:
• Cut town council salaries by 25 percent to save the town about $7,200 per year;
• Evaluate maintenance contracts on equipment and determine which contracts can be eliminated. He suggested some equipment might be cheaper to replace than repair and that town employees might be trained to repair those that are cheaper to repair;
• Have Pulaski Senior Center, where council holds its work sessions, charge a “nominal” fee for out of town residents participating in its programs;
• Relocate the Senior Center to the rebuilt train station when it is ready so that both can be operated “simultaneously” to save on staff and so that the current building on Washington Avenue, across from the post office, can be leased or sold.
Worrell said some of Welker’s suggestions sound like they may have merit, but there is too little information at present to say for sure. He asked Welker to put the suggestions in writing for town staff.
Hawley agreed that council will have to “look at anything you can do” to balance the budget.
He said the town is going to have to start addressing some capital improvements soon, especially given this winter’s impact on public works equipment. “It’s been taking a beating this winter. We’re still pushing snow with at least one 1983 truck, so we may have to address something” this year.
Councilman Joel Burchett Jr. also asked whether the town is considering any incentives to encourage retirement for those eligible to retire, but not for early retirement. He noted one of the problems the school system faces is expending higher salaries for one person who could retire, but won’t, instead of paying two new employees about the same amount.
Councilman Robert Bopp questioned whether it is a good idea to encourage more experienced workers to retire if they still want to work, saying “a lot of times one senior person is worth two junior people.”
Worrell agreed that a lot of experience is lost when long-term employees retire.

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