In response to projected budget shortfalls, the City of Wayzata is implementing several measures to reposition itself in order to continue to provide residents with quality services at a reasonable price.
Budget challenges include those related to the historic economic downturn, reduced investment earnings and shortfalls in building permit revenue. The city could face even more challenges from the state such as the potential loss of dollars in fine revenue, and levy limits that could effectively freeze taxes at current levels.
In order to allow time for implementation of long-term budget strategies, the city has imposed a hiring freeze, reduced employee overtime hours, disallowed out of state travel and is placing several capital projects on hold. However, with only these traditional belt-tightening measures, the city would still face a projected shortfall for 2009 and beyond.
At the May 5th council meeting the city implemented cut backs in communications and Wayzata Cable TV, gardens, seasonal workers, eliminating one CSO position by attrition and cutting back two positions to part time. Those decisions resulted in a $194,400 savings.
To help mitigate the remaining projected budget shortfall, the city manager has now negotiated early retirement packages with two employees namely Jan Svennson the Motor Vehicle Supervisor and Sonny Clark the Parks Superintendant and has an agreement from its city clerk to go on a part time basis to 4 days a week, all effective May 15, 2009. You may recall it was
proposed to eliminate the two positions and that is still the case, the positions will not be filled in the future. Also to address the originally proposed elimination of a police officer, we have been notified that the remaining CSO person has accepted a new job and the Police Chief is recommending that we do not fill that position, retain the police officer and supplement the
remaining budget shortfall of $10,000 by using qualifying forfeiture funds (funds from vehicles seized in DWI arrests). The last remaining item is the lifeguards at the beach. The recommendation is that we start guarding the beach one week later than in the past and that the hours be reduced from 11am – 7pm to 12pm to 6pm which puts the cost of the lifeguard contract at $15,450 and that a transfer of that amount, on a one time basis, is made from cash balances in the city CIP plans.
Additionally, the city will look into cooperative agreements for shared services in the areas of inspection and engineering, and will look at department reorganizations and reallocation of personnel. Barring the state imposing significantly greater mandates than those already expected, no further major actions are planned.
All of these repositioning strategies will achieve short-term budget balancing. The city will need to develop long-term strategies to sustain direct core services, continue investments in infrastructure, and moderate property tax growth.
Any questions related to this release should be directed to Al Orsen, Wayzata city manager, at (952) 404-5309.