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Paso holds off on budget cuts

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The Paso Robles City Council on Jan. 18 postponed a decision concerning the city’s proposed budget cuts, which include closing Centennial Pool, deferring youth and adult sports program support to league representatives, and reducing event marketing by 25 percent for the next two years.

According to City Manager Jim App, some of the figures in the financial forecast report were incorrect or outdated. He said that instead of a 25 percent cut to marketing, the figure nears 50 percent. Officials for the sports programs agreed to take control of their respective leagues, which would mean such items can be removed from the proposal. If passed, the cuts could save $500,000 in the next year and $1 million over the next two years.

Councilmembers Ed Steinbeck and John Hamon said they were satisfied with the report and were eager to make a decision. Mayor Duane Picano, however, had reservations. He asked city staffers to look deeper into potential repercussions and alternatives before the council makes a decision. Picano repeatedly expressed disappointment with the public, which was relatively absent from the meeting.

The council is scheduled to take a final vote on Feb. 22.

Water and sewer rates also crept into the discussion. Since 2006, litigation between the city and community has lingered when residents filed protests over proposed rate hikes. After deflecting public comments, App confirmed that an increase in the water rate wouldn’t solve the city’s budget deficit, nor cover the accrued legal costs. Councilmembers said they wouldn’t impose a sewer rate because they don’t want to force another burden on residents.

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