Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

Lake City Report - June 25, 2010
It's budget crunch time in Lake City

This week, due to a glitch in Mr. Johnson's computer, his weekly report went into electron heaven. The Observer spoke with Mr. Johnson on Saturday morning for this week's City Manager's report.

Observer:     Good morning Mr. Johnson. Thanks for returning my call. 

Mr. Johnson:   No problem. 

Observer:     Can you give me an idea on what went up into electron smoke? 

Mr. Johnson:      The City continues to be busy with the budget. This week we met to make sure that we are connecting all the dots and are moving in the right direction. We also met with the bond underwriter. We’re on schedule and things are looking good. I also put out a call for estimates. 

Observer:     What's that?

Mr. Johnson:    I’ve used this term my whole career. I send out the draft department budgets to the department heads and I call for their estimates of what they’re going to need for the coming year and their justification. They provide that to me and we sit down and reconcile their budget against ours. 

Observer:     How many of the departments in the city do their own budgets? 

Mr. Johnson:    All of them. Every department head prepares their own budget. That includes operational costs, personnel costs, capital costs -- everything -- I don’t know what they need, they have to tell me what they need. There is no one that knows better than them. If I was going to do the budget myself, there would be no need to send it down to them.  

Observer:    What happens if there is a disagreement between you and the department head? 

Mr. Johnson:   We discuss it. We hash it out. Some things we can put off and some things we eliminate. Then we come to a consensus. 

Observer:     What happens when the budget goes to the Council workshops? 

Mr. Johnson:     The same thing happens. The whole purpose of the budget process is so that we can have different levels of review and input. 

Observer:     Are the department heads required to be at the budget workshops? 

Mr. Johnson:     Why wouldn't they be? 

Observer:      It sounds like in the city this budget crunch time? 

Mr. Johnson:     It sure is. We are crunching now. We are working toward the first draft to distribute to the Council for the workshops. That draft is a balanced budged based on the input from the staff and our review. Then we go to the Council and let them make decisions on whether or not they want other adjustments or if they have additional initiatives. 

Observer:     This year's budget will have job titles and salaries?

Mr. Johnson:     Absolutely.

Observer:     With all that has been going on with the economy, how do you feel about this year's budget?

Mr. Johnson:     I’m very comfortable  -- at this point.

Observer:     Thanks for this week's update.

Mr. Johnson:     No problem -- I have to get back to my yard work.

The City Staff Report is available in pdf format here.

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Read the City Manager's 2010 Budget and Administrative Report • here.


City Staff Report
 • Week ending June 25, 2010