Rice Lake (WQOW)- An area city is facing a budget deficit of more than $1 million and has some tough decisions to make.
"Everybody that works for the city in one form or another is being asked to do more with less," says Rice Lake City Council Member Mark O'Brien.
Rice Lake is in a predicament.
"At the end of 2013, we are going to have a large deficit; somewhere over a million dollars," explains Councilman Dan Genereau.
"We are going to have to do budget cuts," O'Brien responds. "Like what you do at home, look over your budget and say maybe we don't have to go out and eat so much this month."
"Sadly, we are probably going to be laying some people off by the end of the year in an effort to reduce costs," Genereau relents.
Rice Lake says layoffs are the last thing the city wants to see happen. But balancing a budget deficit of more than $1 million is very difficult to do. So the city is exploring its options.
The city has asked each department to cut 10 percent from their own budget.
"Every one of them knows we are in the budget crunch and they are all working hard to save us wherever they can," exclaims O'Brien.
"There's a consolidation program going on in the city where we are looking at bringing departments together," says Genereau.
Here's an example: Some city employees cut grass while others focus on street repairs. Consolidating Rice Lake's Parks and Street Departments would ask one worker to do both.
In an act of solidarity, city council members voted unanimously to voluntarily give back 10 percent of their pay to the general fund.
"It's a little disingenuous of us to think we can lay people off without helping the situation a little bit through a voluntary cut in our salaries," Genereau says.
The city council is also looking at outsourcing lawn mowing and adding a city storm water utility fee. The next budget meeting will take place early next month.
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