Major deficit could cause major cuts for one city

Major deficit could cause major cuts for one city

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The city of Blytheville is facing a deficit and it may cause some major city cuts in the future.

Finance Committee Director John Callens called a special meeting Wednesday night to address the budget issues.

Currently the city is facing around a $1.6 million dollar deficit. The major concern is the general fund, which is $1.2 million of the total deficit.

The general fund includes police, fire, sanitation and administration.

"They were having serious problems in the general fund," Callens said of previous administrations. "When we started to look at it, what the problem was the former committee had balanced it, but they had balanced it partially with dedicated funds that can't be used."

This is not something new, according to Callens. The city been in deficit each year since 2000, except for one year.

The finance committee is looking to cut $1 million in spending by either letting go of employees or eliminating services.

"At the meeting last night, members said I don't want to cut police and I don't want to cut fire, but trash pickup I hate to get into that," Callens said. "I said well you just named everything in the general fund."

Callens said the city must determine what do do after voters rejected a recent sales tax proposal.

"There are 2 ways to deal with a deficit, you either increase revenue or you cut expenses," Callens said. "We tried the revenue side and it was shot down so the only other alternative is to cut expenses."

Normally the finance committee presents the budget to the city council on Dec. 1, but this year Callens wanted the council's input early.

"Because of the current circumstances, we wanted everybody to be involved and get their ideas," Callens said.

City council members have until Friday to turn in questions about the deficit and budget to Callens. He will work to answer questions and get department heads' input before the next meeting.

Councilman Tommy Abbott voiced his opinion through an editorial piece in the local newspaper and he does not want to make cuts. Abbott said he hopes there are other ways to help fix the problem.

"There has got to be some changes made but for me personally I don't see that the need is going to be so much with cutting the individual person as much as it is changing the structure," Abbott said.

Both Callens and Abbott said this will take some collaborative work from the council to find a solution.

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