Residents hear breakdown of city#039;s plan to reduce costs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 15, 2003

City officials turned to area residents Monday for input on how to help trim Austin's budget for the upcoming year.

The hour-long meeting, held at Southgate Elementary School, attracted about a dozen residents who followed a presentation by city Finance Director Tom Dankert that detailed how the city would trim costs and programs to meet an anticipated $1.8 million funding shortage in Local Government Aid.

Two of the larger proposed expenditure decreases include not building a parking lot on the city's east side (saving $100,000) and using $115,000 from the city's fund balance.

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One option city officials have discussed to cut costs was to eliminate skating at the city's outdoor ice rinks.

Dale Siegfreid, of Austin, urged the council to keep the rinks open. Siegfried questioned how much it would cost the city to continue running outdoor ice rinks. Dankert said the city had been using funds to operate a warming house and to keep lights on at night.

Dankert said, however, he appreciated Siegfreid's comments because use of the warming house and the lights could be eliminated, thus lowering costs and still enabling the rinks to be open during the daylight hours and on weekends.

"It seems an awful small amount for those kids," Siegfreid said. "This is the state of hockey. There's got to be a better way than closing all of those outdoor rinks."

Second Ward council member Pete Christopherson said getting ideas from area residents is what the meetings are all about.

"Your ideas are what's going to help us out," Christopherson said. "A thousand brains are a lot better than seven. There's a lot of smart people in this town."

Similar meetings will be held at 7 p.m. tonight at Sumner Elementary School and at 7 p.m. Thursday at Neveln Elementary School.

Dan Fields can be reached at 434-2230 or by e-mail at