Janesville City Council took its first look at cutting back its 2019 budget since a nearly 18 percent preliminary levy increase was sent off to the state by a September 30 deadline.

Janesville City Administrator Clinton Rogers says it’s been an approach typically used by the council, setting a maximum levy figure by the September deadline, then a closer look at reducing it before sending in a final figure by year’s end.

The preliminary general levy amount approved at the Sept. 24 council meeting totaled just over $1 million. At that meeting, Councilor Ron Cummins had questioned a $90,000 increase in the city’s police department budget, but Rogers explained that the new school resource officer at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton school district accounted for much of that, with JWP reimbursing the city 70 percent of that expense.

Mayor Mike Santo said the council’s process of looking at the city budget will continue through the final months of the year, with council members and city officials looking line-by-line item at reductions. Some minor reductions were approved by the council on Monday, but Santo said a deeper look at the 2019 budget will reduce the city’s final general levy figure.

“During the next several council meetings, staff will present different portions of the draft budget for council to review,” Rogers reported in an Oct. 4 memorandum. “It may be easier for the council to look at parts of the budget before the final budget is approved in December.”

Monday’s action included a look at the Janesville City Hall proposed expenditures for 2019. Listed as the “General Government Building” fund, it’s proposed at $137,200 for next year. That’s currently a reduction of about $15,000 over 2018.

That fund does not include the city administrator expenses, which includes salary and benefits at $118,484. Of that, a $93,017 is salary.

Accounting and office staff salaries, as well as professional services expenditures, are proposed at just over $289,000. That includes salaries for three city hall employees and professional services. It’s preliminary set for about a $20,000 increase over 2018.

One professional, contracted service for the city of Janesville that is changing is that of city attorney. Past discussions at council meetings suggested the need for a change, and last week the resignation of the Kennedy and Kennedy Law Office in Mankato temporarily left the city without legal representation.

On Monday, the council approved contracting with attorney Jason Moran of Christian, Keogh, Moran and King of Le Center to serve as interim city attorney through the end of the year.

Councilor Kari Grisim had motioned at the Sept. 10 Janesville City Council meeting to hire Moran as interim city attorney effective Oct. 1 but that motion failed. And city staff continued to utilize Kennedy and Kennedy for the next few weeks.

Monday’s action resolved that issue and council member Cummins said the next months will allow the city to weigh the services of Moran and hopefully bring him on for 2019, as well.

Reach Dana Melius at 507-931-8567.

Regional Managing Editor, Adams Publishing Group--Southern Minnesota/Western Division: St. Peter Herald, Waseca County News, Le Center Leader, Le Sueur News-Herald

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