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Spa City makes budget cuts

To some members of the City Council, these cuts didn't amount to enough.

"Many of the cuts I see on here are nothing but deferrals," said Commissioner of Accounts John Franck. "This is going to increase peoples' taxes by double digits, not just next year, but for many years."

Franck was joined in dissention by Mayor Scott Johnson, who said that fiscal mismanagement, especially in the Public Safety Department, is more to blame than any economic downturn. He argued there have been increases in that department's budget while other offices have contracted.

"If every other department in the city operated in that fashion, we would have been out of business a long time ago," said Johnson. "I cannot support this budget without further reductions, particularly coming from Public Safety."

Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim countered that the services provided by his department are those that city residents absolutely cannot afford to forego. He said additional revenue streams should be examined, and proposed amending the budget cuts with a capital expenditure moratorium. The motion was not met with a second.

"It's incredible to me that we are contemplating this without looking at a capital budget moratorium," said Kim. "There are projects out there, most notably the rec center, that are going to have to be staffed, heated and maintained."

Commissioner of Public Works Anthony "Skip" Scirocco placed the blame for the budget crisis and the city's lengthy response on the city's council form of government.

"There's a lot of waste in the way we do government here. It's everybody pitted against everybody else, and it doesn't bode well for the taxpayers of the city," he said

Perhaps the only thing the council members could agree unanimously on is that even with Tuesday's budget amendments, the city will be facing the start of a particularly daunting budget cycle in just a few short months.

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