Atherton staff narrowed the $2 million gap in the town's projected revenues, but the cuts don't go far enough to close the gaping hole in the town's $10.6 million adopted budget, council members said at a special March 2 meeting.
Cuts recommended by staff would shrink Atherton's shortfall in projected revenues to $1.6 million for the fiscal year ending June 30.
The City Council sat down with its city manager and department heads and, for three hours, painstakingly looked at ways to cut the budget. Cuts range from small gestures -- fewer trips to conferences, no more meals at council meetings that run through dinner time -- to bigger, more aggressive moves, like postponing major capital improvement projects and traffic studies, reducing police officer hours, and tightening the screws on the legal services budget.
"I read this cover letter 15 times and every time I shook my head and said, 'You guys just don't get it.' This is a severe economic depression," said Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen, who told staff that they were looking at the budget problem backwards.
The town needs to figure out what it really needs, and then maybe it can add on a little. "It's not just cut a little here, or a little there," she said.
Town staff will come back with more proposals for deeper cuts, said City Manager Jerry Gruber.
For more information, see the next print edition of The Almanac.