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Columbia CFO: ‘We’re looking for pennies’

Oct 21, 2010 12:12:00 PM - thestate.com

Columbia’s elected officials praised the city’s employees for keeping the city $2.4 million under budget through the first quarter, but warned that the city must continue to pinch pennies in order to stay ahead in the current economic environment.

“The pennies add up,” said Chief Financial Officer Bill Ellis, referring to the city’s efforts to safe money any way it can. “We’re not going to find dollars anymore, but we’re looking for pennies.”

Through the end of September, the city has spent $2.4 million less than it planned in its general fund, which is made up mostly of property taxes and business license fees. The money goes to pay for things like police and fire protection, garbage pick up and parks and recreation.

This is the second consecutive year the city has ended the first quarter under budget. But it is the first year the city was able to do that without furloughing employees. Mayor Steve Benjamin said the city has no plans to reinstate cost of living raises or merit raises for city employees, but said council will discuss those options when they begin to debate next year’s budget.