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Cutting costs leads talks

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By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post

Cutting costs, including the possibility of only offering food in vending machines at the Jimmy Floyd Family Center this summer, was the theme of a Lebanon City Council work session Monday night.

Most of the discussion involved which departments would need temporary help before the new budget is in place for fiscal year 2009-2010.

Both Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath and Ward 1 Councilor Alex Buhler agreed that it would have been helpful to have an organizational chart from Human Resources available to decide if some employees could be shifted between departments for a short term solution to the limited funds available.

William Porter, director of recreation for Lebanon, said his department could work with fewer temporaries than last year and agreed to hiring four temps, one of which will only work part time. Last year his department used six fulltime temporaries during the summer months.

That request will be on the agenda for a special called meeting scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. as will requests from Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Baines for temporary workers to mow grass and bushhog for the city maintenance, and possibly a request from Tim Hill, JFFC director, for food court workers for the center.

He said the food court was needed to keep the number of paying users up for the summer. Parents tend to drop kids off at the pool in the morning and tell them to stay put.

“We have to feed them,” he said.

But the council asked Hill to check into the possibility of using vending machines to feed customers at the center instead of actually opening the food court, since in the past the food court has lost money for the city.

Baines was told his mowing crew may have to agree to take over mowing of the Don Fox Park from the recreation department before the council agrees to hire the temporary workers he needs.

The good news financially came from Commissioner of Finance Russell Lee.

The latest sales tax figure are “only down by 3 percent” from this time last year, he said. That means the city won’t be as far behind as was previously expected, since last month the tax collections were down by 16 percent.

Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Huddleston said he wanted to be sure that both Porter and Fire Chief Chris Dowell were commended for what they have been doing to save the city money. Both department heads, he said, are working to cover hours the city would need to pay overtime to other employees to cover otherwise

“Chris is the chief, but he’s still riding the engine to fires,” he said, and he added that Porter is also covering various events instead of asking to hire anyone to do so. Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@wilsonpost.com.

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