BILLINGS — The Billings City Council voted to direct city staff to cut $3.5 million from the 2021 budget in advance of a public safety mill levy in the Sept. 15 election.
The Council voted 6-4 in favor of a motion from Council Member Roy Neese on the plan to cut from the proposed $318 million budget. Mayor Bill Cole was absent.
Neese's motion included removing about $1 million from the budget earmarked for an cost-saving efficiency program called Lean Six Sigma. Neese reasoned that would leave city staff to come back to Council with $2.5 million more in cuts at a future meeting.
The Council is working toward passing the 2021 budget and heard an update on predictions made earlier in the year.
Billings City Administrator Chris Kukulski described a series of reductions that, if adopted by the Council, could reduce the budget by about $1 million and offset possible dips into reserves.
In city staff's presentation, the proposed budget totaled $318 million. Kukulski said the price of gas hasn't been as high lately, so the city could save about $150,000 on the cost of fuel across the city departments.
There was also $300,000 identified that was added twice for an airport project, so that money was removed from the proposed total. Another $300,000 was able to be removed due to a reduction in the city's liability insurance fund. And the city will delay hiring a public information officer until halfway into the year.
The council rejected city staff's proposal to move $4.3 million in expenses and about $800,000 in revenue from parks district one into the general fund.
No final budget decisions were made at the virtual city council work session.