Budget Drops by 4% After State Proposal

Responding to a proposal that would eliminate state vehicle registration taxes, which help fill city coffers, council members this week approved an $80-million budget that calls for a freeze on hiring and new projects. The City Council approved the 1998-99 budget, which is 4% less than last year's plan, on advice from City Manager Allan L. Roeder.

If the car tax is not eliminated or simply decreased, Roeder said, he would update the budget allowing for some new projects, including a beefed-up building inspection program. The surge in the economy has sparked an overwhelming number of inspection applications for building projects, city officials said.

If the car tax is scrapped, however, it could cost the city $4.3 million and would stall any extra spending.

"That is a significant hit," Roeder said. "We may be able to get by this year by using some of the city's reserves."

But in future years, Roeder said, some services--with the exception of public safety--may have to be cut.

City officials will learn the fate of the vehicle registration tax when the Legislature approves the state budget this summer.

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