Silver Bay weighs options with state cutsThe city of Silver Bay may be facing deeper local government aid cuts than once originally thought.
The city of Silver Bay may be facing deeper local government aid cuts than once originally thought.
On Tuesday, Mayor Scott Johnson said the city could be facing another $158,000 in cuts on top of the already expected $110,000 cut.
“The council worked really hard to keep taxes down,” Johnson said at council meeting. “We are very concerned. … We may be seeing some things fall by the wayside.”
City administrator Lana Fralich isn’t panicking.
“A lot of it is speculation,” she said. “There’s no need to get overly excited.”
If the $110,000 and $158,000 cuts did happen, it would mean Silver Bay would be getting a 48 percent reduction in LGA.
Fralich said the city starts with a grassroots effort with the department heads to find out where they can avoid expenditures on new items.
The city is looking at adding another person to the street department in 2010.
“It’s definitely a needed item,” Fralich said.
The possibility of cutting services does remain. Fralich said if people in the city want certain services, there could be a need for a tax increase.
Employees are another matter. Fralich said cutting employees would be the very last thing they would do to rectify the budget.
“[We want to] protect as much as we can with employees,” Fralich said.
Not helping matters is the possibility of the city purchasing new equipment for the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) system that is being implemented throughout the state of Minnesota.
At the meeting, Sheriff Carey Johnson said the Federal Communications Commission has mandates that state regions have to switch from wideband to narrowband radios, which means new equipment would need to be purchased. All emergency vehicles would need to be compliant with the new system.
County Commissioner Tom Clifford said the system could cost the county about $2.5 million over 10 years, and there are hopes that it will not be completely funded by the county. Cities are being looked at for funding as well as grant opportunities.
The system will have to be narrowband compliant which means the county must either go with the state’s choice of ARMER, or some other kind of system. Clifford said the state will already have a backbone in place for ARMER which means it’s more logical to go with that choice.
“What I’m hearing is this is something we are going to have to do,” Mayor Johnson said. He said he finds it troubling they are talking about doing this now with the economic situation cities are facing.
The system is supposed to make interstate transmissions easier as well as emergency personnel talking to dispatch from longer distances.
A brief discussion about a community garden took place. The garden could be part of the Statewide Health Improvement Program the city is involved with. SHIP’s purpose is to focus on improving people’s health while getting them out of a funk of inactivity.