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The City of Sarasota is poised to deplete its budget reserves this year and tap into retiree benefits next year to balance both budgets. That was the message Friday, July 11, as Finance Director John Lege unveiled next year's budget. But first he needs to get through this year's budget, and it's $1.2 million in the hole. To deal with that, Lege proposed a spending reduction for the next 10 weeks equal to 10 percent of the current operations budget. He is quick to point out no personnel changes are in the works to balance either year's bud- gets. But he faces a $1.7 million decline in revenues in the current budget, including a drop between budgeted and actual receipts from red light cameras (down $1.5 mil- lion), communications service taxes (down $967,000) and franchise fees on electricity and natural gas (off $632,000). Lege said the Florida Department of Transportation "lengthened the yellow light [time] slightly," which cut red-light-run- ning revenue. These shortfalls were offset by better-than-ex- pected receipts from the excise taxes on electricity, water and fuel oil, as well as "other revenue sources." During last year's budget sessions, the City Commission decided to tap into its "budget stabilization" reserves for City commissioners and staff pore over the numbers at their Friday afternoon, July 11, budget workshop, looking to cover a $3.6 million deficit. Photo by Stan Zimmerman RESERVES ALL BUT EXHAUSTED BENEFITS FUND RAIDED TO BALANCE NEXT YEAR'S CITY BUDGET By Stan Zimmerman City Editor

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