LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - 2015 is still months away, but city officials are already beginning to prepare for yet another financially tight year.
When council members put together the city budget last year, they said it would only get harder from here on out, and as the budget process begins this year, that sentiment still rings true.
With an estimated million-dollar deficit and likely no increase in state funding, the city of La Crosse is looking to cut back its budget for 2015.
"I still think we have room to make some changes when it comes to overall efficiency and just doing better with what we have currently," said Mayor Tim Kabat.
That work has just begun - the city's Budget Parameters Committee met Wednesday to outline where cuts can be made, and city officials say that's not an easy decision.
"The big challenges of course are continuing public safety and our focus on neighborhoods, and then the other piece, of course, is the library, that's been getting a lot of attention," Kabat said.
"Police, fire, streets, parks - no one really wants to cut any of those things," said Doug Happel, a member of the board. "But when you only have so much money, you have to trim."
One piece of good news for residents - with no plans to increase spending, the city isn't planning on increasing taxes, either.
Council members have the next four months to mow through the details and provide a finished budget for 2015 without cutting too deep.
"Just as homeowners trim their properties sometimes, the city needs to continue to trim - the problem is if you trim too far, pretty soon you're starting to cut out whole sections," Happel said.
Over the next month and a half, the mayor will meet with department heads to go over their respective budgets, with the goal of putting together all the pieces by early fall. The full City Council will vote on a final budget for 2015 in November.
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