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Given the state of the economy around the nation and across the state, city officials are taking a closer look at the 2008-09 budget.
During a special city council meeting Dec. 22, Mayor Gary Crenshaw said that the city is in good financial shape, all things considered.
There are fewer people working in Lebanon than there were a year ago, which will likely affect revenue from the city's occupational tax.
To that end, Crenshaw presented the sitting city council members and incoming council members Kenny Marrett and Kate Palagi with some recommendations for changes in the 2008-09 budget. Those recommendations reflect $309,500 in spending cuts in the general fund and among various departments.
Outgoing councilman Dennis George and Councilman Bill Pickerill, both of whom voted against the 2008-09 budget, questioned how much the budget might be affected.
When the council approved the budget, both George and Pickerill expressed concerns about possible deficit spending. Crenshaw disputed that concern at that time.
Last week, he reiterated that overall the city remains in good financial shape and some steps have already been taken to curb spending.
One area of concern raised during last week's discussion involved the salaries at the parks department. The city budgeted $99,700 in that line item and had spent $57,551.16 (or 57.7 percent of the budgeted amount) at the end of November.
Park Activities Director Matthew Mattingly made an impassioned defense of the spending in that category, noting that Graham Memorial Park has expanded to 105 acres.
Outgoing Councilman Darin Spalding also defended the spending by the park activities department, arguing that it was a return on the investment paid by Lebanon's taxpayers.
The meeting ended when the council agreed to a suggestion by George that the new council members needed time to review the mayor's recommendations regarding the budget.
Crenshaw encouraged council members to call City Administrator John Thomas with any questions they had regarding the budget.
In other business:
- The city council approved the second reading of three annexation ordinances. The annexed properties include 875 Bradfordsville Highway, tracts 1A and 1B of the James "Spunk" Young Jr. property on Springfield Highway, and property on the southwestern boundary of Lebanon on West Main Street belonging to Hilpp's Marion County Property, LLC.
- The city approved an agreement authorizing Washington International Insurance Company to takeover completion of Phases 2 and 3 of the ongoing renovation of the former Lebanon High School building, now part of Centre Square. According to the agreement, Baesler Construction, which was originally contracted to complete the renovation, is considered to be in default on the contract and has filed for bankruptcy.