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Billings City Council directs staff for proposals to cut 2021 budget

Posted at 11:00 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-02 01:50:22-04

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.

RELATED: Billings City Council looking toward smaller levy ask in 2020