Marengo considers layoffs

MARENGO – Because of continual uncertainty over state revenues, the city of Marengo might layoff three employees at the end of this month.

No formal action has been taken yet, but the issue could be on the June 28 City Council meeting agenda, City Administrator Deborah Nier said.

Although the city’s fiscal 2011 budget recently was passed, city aldermen met in a special committee last week to further discuss the state’s fiscal crisis.

Nier said the city of Marengo currently is behind in receiving $286,000 in state payments.

“We’re going to be looking at the influx of revenue more closely, particularly from the state,” Nier said of the budget process.

“That will really dictate in the next few months what’s going to happen.”

The employee positions that might be eliminated include two public works department members and one police officer.

The savings of reducing one public works position would be about $70,000, Nier said, but other estimates were not immediately available.

The city also is looking at potential savings in “small things,” she added, such as the police department sharing some of its services with general administration.

“A lot of our future in terms of our service levels is going to rest on some of that state revenue coming in,” Nier said.

Earlier this spring, the City Council was considering temporarily freezing aldermen’s salaries and outsourcing its police dispatch center to save money. An ad hoc committee was created to study a proposal to contract with SEECOM, but a majority of aldermen were against forgoing their own salaries for 11 months.

The city’s eight aldermen earn $300 a month, or $3,600 a year, for attending meetings. An 11-month freeze, from June 2010 through April 2011, would have saved the city $26,400.

According to city documents, the fiscal 2010 year ended on a $234,000 deficit, partly because of decreased developer fees and delayed state revenue payments.

However, Nier said the fiscal 2011 budget currently does not have a deficit. Recent figures showed the city with about a $3.8 million operating budget.

After approving an increase to the municipal telecommunications tax rate from 4.5 to 6 percent earlier this year, the city will begin collecting on July 1 an extra $70,500 in general fund revenue.

The rate had been set at 4.5 percent since 2002 under a state formula.

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