City directors today will consider a budget amendment that would reduce Little Rock's expenditures for the rest of 2019 by about $2.1 million, with the largest cuts to parks, youth programs and outside agencies.
The new proposal, submitted by the city's Finance Department and available online, is a revision of the gentler of two options that Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and finance director Sara Lenehan presented to the board last week.
Their initial recommendation would have reduced city expenditures by about $2.3 million for the remainder of 2019, which, if the cuts continued year to year, would have had an annual net impact of about $5.3 million. The revision would have an annual net impact of about $5 million.
Lenehan said Monday that the department adjusted the budget based on feedback from city directors at last Tuesday's meeting. Officials expressed concern about cuts to the Parks and Recreation Department and the city's allotment to the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The revised proposal cuts $361,635 from the Parks and Recreation Department, compared with the initial $514,135 for 2019 or more than $1 million from the department's budget annually, including the elimination of 26 positions, 17 of which are filled. Lenehan said the revision cuts five fewer jobs.
The proposal includes $384,000 in cuts to the city's contributions to outside agencies, including $500,000 less in 2019 to Rock Region Metro, with the money to be reallocated to the city's street fund.
Proposed ordinance amendmentView
It also recommends decreasing the city's annual allocations to the Museum of Discovery by about $38,000 and the Downtown Little Rock Partnership by about $50,000. The impact on those agencies for the remainder of 2019 would be half those amounts, if the changes were applied year to year.
The cut in funding to the museum is smaller than the one recommended Tuesday, while the reductions in allocations to the area's transit agency and the downtown nonprofit remained the same.
The city's contract with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce would decrease by $100,000, cutting the annual contribution by one-third instead of the one-half that was initially proposed.
A $375,000 reduction to prevention, intervention and treatment programs for 2019 remained the same, as did $173,787 in cuts to the Housing and Neighborhood Programs Department, which would come in part due to eliminating six filled positions.
The proposal still factors in the closure and repurposing of two municipal golf courses. It doesn't specify which ones, though it allocated $160,000 in funding for the First Tee course off South University Avenue for April through July.
Lenehan said that even the slightly smaller cuts would help remedy the city's budget situation. The city experienced a net loss of about $7 million in 2018, prompting Scott to say last month that the city needed to plan for its long-term future.
"These are steps that are needed to kind of match our recurring expenses," she said.
At least one city director reached Monday isn't sure if the changes are enough.
"I appreciate everything that they've done so far. Is it enough for me? No," At-large City Director Joan Adcock said.
Adcock said she was concerned about cuts to agencies like the Museum of Discovery, which set their budgets for the whole year based on the amount of money they anticipate getting from the city. She said the possible closure of two golf courses also concerned her, because the Hindman course is somewhere "everyday" people feel comfortable going to, and the one at War Memorial has a lot of history.
Another director, Ken Richardson of Ward 2, said the number of "boots-on-the-street" positions, where city employees deal directly with the community, stood out to him.
"I want to make sure we don't have any sacred cows or sacrificial lambs," Richardson said. "I want to make sure that everything's going to be fair and equitable across the board."
An amendment to the budget must be approved by the city board, which will continue its discussion and decide how to move forward when it meets at 4 p.m.
A Section on 05/14/2019
Print Headline: Little Rock directors to consider revised budget proposal; $2.1M reduction would cut parks, youth programs