Balancing Blythevilles' Budget?

BLYTHEVILLE (KAIT) Even a small city like Blytheville needs millions of dollars to operate.

Arkansas law requires a city to have a balanced budget every year.

This year due to some unexpected costs the city of Blytheville is having difficulties with the balance.

Blythevilles' anticipated budget for 09 is going to be around 14 1/2 million dollars.

That seems like a lot to spread around to various departments.  Each having it's own special needs.

Mayor Barrett E. Harrison, "They'll submit a budget and that always includes the things that are pretty well set in concrete. But includes their wish list, new equipment or whatever."

But by law a city can not spend more than it takes in. Hence the balanced budget.

This year the process is a bit difficult.

Harrison, "I think we all have to be very careful. You know nobody knows what to expect this year."

Between the mayors budget and the city councils there was about 8 hundred thousand dollars difference.

Mayor Harrison said they thought they had the money problem licked but then the quorum court kinda threw a monkey wrench into the plans.

Harrison, "They (Quorum Court) passed a budget showing anticipated revenues from the city for jail fees of about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars."

"But now they voted to raise our jail fees to 55 dollars a day and that's going to put us at about 600 thousand dollars. So we immediately lost all the ground we had made up."

With that large cost looming in the future it's back to the calculators.

The city council still has a lot of work ahead of them to get to a balanced budget trimming what excess they can and if that doesn't work.

Harrison, "If they can't get there then services will have to be cut. Fees will have to be raised, fees for garbage and trash and those things."

Harrison says the council looks at trimming things, before people.

"We never want to lay anyone off if we have to. So they look at , look and look just to see if they have missed any fat, anywhere."

With possibly less revenue coming in, increased costs for everything and a shaky economy, it may be a real tough balancing act.

Harrison, "Something has got to give somewhere."

Mayor Harrison says he is confident the problems can be worked out. They are supposed to have the budget completed by February first.