BAKER — To deal with a tight budget, the city is considering not replacing employees who leave or retire, and a reduction in force might be called, if necessary.
“A lot of hard decisions were made and all I can say is we’ve done the best we can,” Mayor Harold Rideau said of the proposed $15.2 million budget.
The City Council is set to take the final vote on the proposed 2014-15 fiscal year budget at its July 8 meeting.
Employee salaries constitute 77 percent of the budget, which calls for transferring $1 million from the utility fund and $900,000 from the traffic division fund to balance the general fund.
Police Chief Mike Knaps asked the council to consider giving the police department money for new police cars. Funds for the cars were in an earlier proposed budget, but were later taken out, he said.
“I requested four (police cars), but two would be much better than none,” he said.
The council made no decision on his request.
The council discussed not renewing Jean Byers’ contract as coordinator of programs, projects and events for the Baker Heritage Museum, but ultimately took no action.
As a part-time employee, Byers makes $18,000 per year, councilman Pete Heine said. The total budget for the museum is $60,000.
“I feel like the museum is one of my children because it started when I was mayor,” Heine said. “But it’s a luxury that at this time I don’t think we can afford. I’m going to vote against (renewing the contract) and hope it passes.”
Utilities would have to be maintained at the museum to protect the artifacts, Heine clarified.
Councilman Charles Vincent called for Byers to do some fundraising and to apply for grants.
Heine made a motion not to renew the contract, but it died for lack of a second.