By Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer
A hiring freeze and smaller budget will force the Carson City Library to cut hours this summer, but other city departments probably won't have to reduce hours or programs unless sales tax revenue drops significantly more.
The library will cut seven hours off its week and other departments will have to delay projects, but a hiring freeze and budget cuts to handle a $3 million shortfall for this fiscal year is manageable for most departments right now.
The city has planned for a drop in sales taxes next fiscal year, said Finance Director Nick Providenti, and more service cuts won't happen if sales tax revenue is down by 10 percent or less compared to the previous year. But if the revenue, which makes up about 40 percent of the city's main fund, stays much lower than that, the city might have to make more cuts.
The parks and recreation department has had to cut back on turf maintenance, but it's not something most people will probably notice, said Roger Moellendorf, parks director.
The department does have five positions open, however, and hours might have to be reduced at the aquatic center or other facilities if the department has to make any more cuts, he said.
The public works department has had to delay some projects, but it hasn't had to keep any positions open or cut any services, said Ken Arnold, department operations manager. Sewer and water fees will also go up in July to help the department with maintenance costs and other expenses.
Monthly reports since last summer have shown sales tax revenue generally down by between 5 and 10 percent compared to the same month in the previous year. January was the worst month, with revenue down by almost 18 percent.
The hiring freeze, which started in October, has stretched some departments but did help the city balance this fiscal year's budget and shave about $2 million off next fiscal year's budget, which starts in July.
The city is trying not to reduce services, Providenti said, so it is forced to keep some positions open.
"It's either that or laying people off," he said.
Stores opening later this year such as Home Depot and Burlington Coat Factory should help the sales tax revenue, he said. If cuts are necessary, fire and sheriff's departments probably will be the last to be affected.
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.