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City facing deficit
By Scott Mills/The Red River Sun—
The City of Childress is facing a $671,300 deficit as the council begins work on the 2020-2021 budget.
During its first budget workshop, City Manager Kevin Hodges told the council he has some plans to reduce the shortfall as he began the hour-long discussion.
The council holds discussions but did not make or pass any motions during the workshop.
The deficit prediction is based, in part, on the expectation that the Hotel Occupancy Tax will be down about 33 percent, or about $275,000.
“That will have a drastic impact on the budget,” Hodges said.
The income from sales tax also is an unknown for the city, he said, adding they do not know expenses for the November election.
In his budget 1.1, Hodges has suggestions of places to cut in several city departments and discusses county residents and their access to city services.
“We, the administration, feel these are areas that county folks get the same services as those living in the city, but they are not paying taxes for it,” Hodges said.
The city also is considering reducing the HOT Tax to Childress Chamber, Municipal Development District (MDD), and Historical Museum receives. Last year the two combined received $106,600 and it is suggested to reduce it to $77,000, with the chamber receiving $35,750 and the museum, $41,250.
Hodges said the police department needs some renovations, and he and Police Chief Shade Miller believe $10,000 could get a lot of repairs made.
The city’s animal and parks departments both are in need of vehicles. Hodges said they are planning to get used vehicles from the City of Abilene.
Hodges said Chamber Executive Director Susan Leary suggested Ernie Arellano be paid using HOT Tax funds. Ernie spends all day at the Visitor’s Center, so Susan wrote his salary into the auditorium budget, so it comes from the HOT funds rather than the general fund.
Hodges suggestions for cuts to the budget include: taking out $27,099 from the discretionary fund, removing $103,000 from the city’s health and wellness program, reducing overtime by $15,000, removing $75,000 for raises and another $75,000 for paving, $7,500 for dog kennels and $5,000 for the underpass.
With the initial plans, Hodges said the deficit could be cut down to $343,677.
“There are so many things up in the air about next year,” he said.
If the council did not want to make these cuts or any further cuts, the city has the option of raising property taxes to bring in more income to offset the deficit.
“If you have nowhere else to cut, that is where you go,” Hodges said.
The second budget workshop was held Monday, Aug. 10.