Council Reviews Preliminary 2021 Budget
Posted on 10/30/2020

Originally Posted October 30. Updated November 9.

As the City looks to manage an updated projected operating deficit of about $700,000, the 2021 preliminary budget calls for expenditure cuts across every department as well as the elimination of Newcastle’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration.

The cost of city services, including public safety services like police and fire, are increasing, and existing revenue sources cannot keep pace. Police and fire contracts alone make up nearly half of the City’s operating budget. 

The preliminary budget draws only on existing revenue sources. It proposes using General Fund reserves to cover the $700,000 shortfall in 2021, a strategy made possible by previous Council actions to build up a healthy fund balance. However, this approach is not sustainable as reserves are drawn down.

In order to cut down on costs, the proposal decreases the City’s training and travel expenses by half, delays the hiring of three employees (including an additional police officer), and cancels the City’s Fourth of July community event. 

“These proposed cuts are made with much trepidation as they clearly will be felt by both the community and Newcastle’s dedicated employees,” City Manager Rob Wyman wrote in his budget message.

Additionally, the budget calls for the elimination of the 3% percent merit-based salary increase for City employees in 2021.

“This is not a reflection on our staff’s quality of work. As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, our small staff of employees rose to the call for action, working longer hours, picking up the pieces of unfilled staff positions and responsibilities, all while adapting to a new COVID-19 work environment that certainly comes with its own struggles,” City Manager Wyman said. “However, as the City faces these financial challenges, we all must make sacrifices.”

The City Manager presented the budget to the Council in October. Now Councilmembers take over the process, reviewing and proposing amendments, as they look to adopt a budget in November or December. View a copy of the full preliminary budget along with a budget calendar and dates of public hearings here.

The Council will hold two public hearings on the budget at its 6 p.m. November 3 meeting. Learn how to watch and comment here.

The Council will hold a special budget meeting at 3 p.m. on November 10. Learn how to watch the meeting here.

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