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Jefferson officials start budget talks
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JEFFERSON - It's nearly halfway through the current fiscal year and the city of Jefferson is getting started on the 2010 budget.

Monday's City Council work session marked the first budget presentation discussion for the upcoming year. Unlike many other municipalities, the Jefferson fiscal year is the same as a regular calendar year instead of beginning in July.

During Monday's meeting at the Jefferson Civic Center on Kissam Street, the heads of the city's police and fire departments and the civic center presented their suggested expenses for the 2010 budget.

"Knowing that the economy isn't in the best shape, our budget is actually dropping by about 2 percent," said Joe Wirthman, police chief.

The decreased police budget includes a 3 percent pay increase for some police department personnel, but no funds for a school resource officer.

"The city's portion of funding the school resource officers hasn't been included in the budget this year because we haven't had a SRO since 2005," said John Ward, city manager. "We believe we have adequate coverage, so it's not a lack of service in that area, so we utilized that cost savings in other areas."

Fire officials report that the proposed financial year 2010 budget is about the same as last year's $274,000 budget.

Local Option Sales Tax collections have gone from record lows to record highs in a month's time, according to a report directed to the council. According to the document prepared by Finance Director Amy Vaughan, LOST funds received last month jumped from $45,000 in April to $79,900 in May.

"That is much more in line with where we though collections should have been for the prior month," Vaughan said. "Hopefully this will continue for the rest of the year."

The council will take action on agenda items during their voting session on June 15. During that meeting, the group will also receive proposed expenses for the 2010 fiscal year from the Crawford W. Long Museum, Main Street Jefferson program, Jefferson Public Library and the city's planning and garbage departments. The group is expected to adopt the final budget in August.