The last 6 weeks have been very busy for the Council with several resolutions and ordinances submitted for council approval. Ordinance # 15 which was recently approved by all 9 council members was a significant event. The Original Ordinance, titled Ordinance #11, was submitted by the Mayor which would have eliminated 24 EMT’s from the City of Lawrence public safety unit. This Ordinance was submitted as a way to provide the city a positive fund balance at the end of the year.
The total reduction of the Ordinance to the 2011 budget was approximately $878,000 of which $613,000 was directly related to a reduction in force of 24 EMT’s. The council challenged the administration to find another option to amend the 2011 budget without eliminating these positions.
Public safety for the citizens of Lawrence is a priority for this council and the elimination of these employees would have a negative impact of providing these crucial services to the community. Through numerous meetings and conversations with the administration, the council was presented an option that mitigated and addressed the budget shortfall in the short term. A company called Indianapolis EMS stepped in and agreed to absorb these 24 EMT’s into their operation and committed to us that service levels would not be affected in any way. Additionally, all EMT’s jobs were saved.
Resolution #9 was also passed which secured the services of Ice Miller LLP to provide assistance in completing the city’s statutory obligation to redistrict the Common Council of the city by the end of the year. The Council will then be presented new district maps for approval.
As Vice Chair of the finance committee, I sponsored three other Ordinances & Resolutions that assists in reducing expenses of our city. Two of these were refinancing/refunding of two bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates. This will save the city over the term of the bonds approximately $100,000. In another step to help reduce expense in budget year 2013, the city will suspend for the remainder of 2012 budget year and all of 2013 the city’s contribution of 3% to the public employee retirement fund. The expectation is this 3% will be restored in 2014 after more long term solutions of revenue generation and expense reductions are in place.
The next priority will be reviewing and passing the city’s 2013 budget. There will be several finance committee meetings where the budget will be discussed and on the first Monday in October, the full budget will be presented to Council as a whole. All committee and council meetings are held in the general assembly room and can be seen on public access TV.