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Budget cuts could include police cadet class

Monday, February 9, 2009 by Austin Monitor

On Thursday, members of city boards and commissions listened as City Manager Marc Ott explained problems the city faces during the economic downturn. He is scheduled to make a much more detailed presentation and recommend possible budget cuts to the council on Wednesday.


When it came time for questions, most commissioners asked about what would happen to the most vulnerable General Fund services—parks, arts programs, the animal shelter and libraries.


But no one mentioned public safety, which takes up 65 percent of the budget, so Ott asked his audience about it. One attendee asked whether the city had decided to delay a planned police cadet class. The next class is scheduled to start in March, and, according to Assistant City Manager Mike McDonald, the city hasn’t decided whether to cancel or delay the class of about 70 members. McDonald told In Fact Daily he wouldn’t know how many new officers are needed this year until he knows how many are retiring.


While most of those in the audience had concerns about budget cuts to programs like parks and arts, Dave Sullivan, chair of the Planning Commission, observed that some ordinance requirements were more costly for developers than others. He noted that, for example, a requirement for sidewall articulation had been relaxed due to complaints. Sullivan wanted to know whether the city would ask developers for assistance in figuring out how to lower their costs.


Ott will present that idea, along with a list of other ways to cut the budget to the Council on Wednesday. CFO Leslie Browder said they plan to outline cost-cutting measures on a department-by-department basis.

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