The City of Grand Junction says it's seen a 10% decrease in sales tax dollar just in the first two months of 2009. With more signs that things will get worse before they get better, officials say now is the time to make adjustments to the city budget.
During Monday night's City Council meeting, council members gave city staff the green light to make several changes to the 2009 budget. City Manager Laurie Kadrich says the changes amount to a 2-4% decrease from the city's initial budget.
Officials say the city will save $2.1 million this year by putting a freeze on all non-essential jobs that are open, reducing staff overtime, and transferring existing employees to other departments. They've identified another $4 million that could be cut if things do not improve over the next few months.
To help stimulate, officials say they are looking into starting several big projects ahead of schedule, which could eventually receive funding from this year's budget. Those include a $10 million aeration project, and $5.2 million in sewer and water projects.
City officials say the fact they're making these changes does not mean it's time to panic. They're just trying to be proactive during these uncertain times.
"We are in much better shape than many communities in our state and across the nation," said Kadrich.
City officials say they also hope to take advantage of federal stimulus dollars to help boost the local economy and offset some costs. The city has created a 12 person team who will study the stimulus plan to figure out how to secure those funds.
Officials say economic indicators show that the city's fiscal situation could turn around as early as April or as late as next year.