While the 2010-11 budget is not yet set in stone, there are many reductions that the Dublin City Council is considering for the coming year.
According to Mayor Tom Gordon, the council has held a series of budget work sessions geared at addressing the current state of the city's economy and also recently hosted a town hall meeting, which invited citizens to get a bird's eye view of the proposed budget and current challenges facing the city.
"There was a decent turnout." Gordon said, referring to the town hall meeting. "Most in attendance were amazed at the cost of some services that render no income to the city."
For example, Gordon said the city's swimming pool, which recently received a $250,000 facelift has added up to a loss for the city. He said possibly closing the pool is "something that we (the council) are looking at, simply because of the numbers."
Gordon said the numbers show that operating the pool costs an estimated $50,000 per year, with the city only taking in about $10,000 - $15,000 in admission fees.
"It is costing the city $40,000 - $45,000 (per year) to operate the pool," Gordon said.
Still hoping for the best, Gordon said the council has asked city administration to allocate the pool's operating costs in the budget.
But Gordon said the council is also weighing other options, such as contracting the pool to "another party," with the city supplying the water. He said the other party would foot the bill for other expenses and services, such as lifeguard pay and snack bar operations.
The potential shuttering of the city pool is not the only cut being considered, and the other possibilities have been the cause of concern for citizens and the city alike. Again, Gordon said the proposed cuts are merely "considerations at this point."
"We are looking at a working budget," Gordon said, explaining that the council will not finalize the budget until mid-September. "It is not yet set in stone."
Still Gordon said the city is considering personnel cuts within the police and public works departments and at the library.
Gordon said in a city that is currently manned by eight full-time police officers, the proposal to eliminate three positions in the police department will leave Dublin with five full-time police officers.
Cutting one full-time public works employee is also being considered, according to Gordon, who said the department is allocated 10 employees, but currently has eight on staff. If the reduction is approved, seven workers will maintain city streets, water and sewer services, recreational facilities and more.
Gordon said the council is considering cutting two part-time positions at the Dublin Public Library, which currently employs two full-time and two part-time workers.
According to Director Sandra Thomas, the part-time positions are held by two circulation clerks and the four-person staff keeps the library going Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. In addition to circulation, the library serves the city by offering a wealth of programs and services to adults and youth.
The reduction at the library could mean much more than the loss of two clerks since Thomas said circulation has doubled since the economy took a downturn.
In addition to searching for ways to cut costs, Gordon said the city is also proposing a tax rate increase of four cents per $100, up to 99 cents.
According to information provided by Erath County Tax Accessor/Collector Jennifer Carey, Dublin's tax rate rested at 56 cents in 1999, with only slight increases being adopted in subsequent years. By 2004, the rate was at 70 cents, where it remained until 2008, when the city adopted a 76 cent tax rate. Last year the council adopted a 19 cent increase, which raised the rate to 95 cents.
"We are now playing a game of catch up," Gordon said. "Unfortunately, we are having to play the game in the worst possible economic situation. It (the economy) is real tough right now."
And Gordon said that game could cause other proposed cuts to be brought to the table during the next couple of weeks.
On Monday at 6 p.m., the city of Dublin will hold a public hearing on the proposed tax rate and once again invite citizens to put their two cents in on the issue. The meeting will be held at Dublin City Hall.
"Depending on public turnout, we will hear citzens' concerns," Gordon said, adding if nobody speaks on the issue, the council will forge ahead into another budget workshop to continue to weigh the city's options for the coming fiscal year.
"Small city Texas is about to learn what the United States has been struggling with over the last few years," Gordon said, referring to the current state of the economy in the Irish Capital of Texas.