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Published: Wednesday, 9/27/2006

Monroe hunts cash as it starts efficiency study


MONROE - An independent consulting firm has begun a five-month study on whether the city of Monroe is operating "efficiently."

"We are definitely going to need to cut personnel, but we are also going to have to figure out how to reduce overtime, consolidate our services, and partner with other agencies," said City Manager George Brown.

"This is for the long term, really. We have projected a $1.5 million deficit for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, and, while we have already started to take some action to reduce that, when you just don't fill [staff] positions it is a little haphazard for the community."

At its last meeting, the Monroe City Council approved Mark Nottley of Rehmann Robson to lead the study.

The study will cost about $77,500, based on an estimated 600 hours of work at $125 per hour, plus expenses, according to Rehmann Robson's bid proposal.

Monroe's 2006-2007 budget projects a $1.4 million deficit for the current fiscal year.

Mr. Brown said that he hopes that Mr. Nottley will find a way to save the city about $2.5 million.

To provide some immediate fiscal relief, the city recently did not fill five vacated positions - police officer, development service director, planner, maintenance worker, and receptionist, according to Mayor C.D. "Al" Cappuccilli.

At least one of these staff losses did not go over well with the community.

"Since eliminating the secretary position, there have been many complaints about people calling us and not being able to get through and getting irate," said Mr. Cappuccilli. "So the council has decided to replace that position."

This year the city has also eliminated the city's curbside leaf pickup program and has merged its engineering and planning departments.

Mr. Cappuccilli said increases in the cost of pension plans are also a prime concern.

He said the city is predicting it will have to put about $1 million into postretirement plans in 2007-2008.

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