Friday, November 12, 1999

Ludlow agonizes over sparse budget

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LUDLOW — Council members considered the latest version of a trim budget proposal Thursday night.

        It includes no pay raises, the sale of the water department by March, no city administrator position and a reduction in staffing in the police department by two officers.

        “It's as tight a budget as I could possibly draw,” said attorney Robert W. Carran, who was hired to advise the Ludlow City Council on financial matters. “This budget is drawn so there is no fat in it.”

        There are no cost-of-living raises and only a bare-bones reserve for mainte nance of facilities.

        “That is something you will have to address,” Mr. Carran told council members.

        If officials can strictly adhere to the proposal, it would leave the city with a about an $80,000 surplus.

        Council did not vote on the budget proposal, which was supposed to be ready when the fiscal year began July 1.

        About two dozen citizens sat in on the proceedings. Several council members asked the police chief how much seven officers — the number proposed in the budget — could do for the city.

        Chief Tom Collins said fewer police officers could leave citizens at risk.

        “My position is that seven men is not a good number for the Ludlow Police Department,” he said. “You're going to be short officers on the street.”

        He also said some cuts could be made in areas such as parks to meet the police department's needs.

        The department now has seven of the nine approved officer positions filled, and the chief wishes to fill the other two.

        “If we have one officer that gets sick, goes on vacation or goes away for mandatory training, we're going to go on mandatory overtime, and that's not in the budget,” said Assistant Chief Benny Johnson. “And if it's not in the budget, we won't have police.”

        City officials will discuss the budget again at their next meeting.


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