While Stewart's proposed budget, with additional state money, would have increased taxes to between .97 and .99 mills, council Democrats came up with additional cuts and revenue increases to avoid a tax hike.

Stewart, a Republican, called the Democrats' reductions to self-insurance, the contingency fund, workers' compensation and trash disposal fees "fiscally irresponsible" in a news release.

The cuts to monetary reserves, coupled with increased revenue projections, will make it a difficult budget to balance, said Lisa Carver, Stewart's chief-of-staff.

Stewart and other Republicans worried that the Democrats' projection of a $250,000 increase in investment revenue could fall through if the country suffers a catastrophe.

Stewart signed the budget in the interest of moving forward, Carver said, but is calling on the Common Council to work with him in cost-saving measures.

Democratic Alderwoman Suzanne Bielinski, mayor pro-tempore, called the reductions conservative. She pointed out that Stewart himself had reduced the department request for self insurance by $500,000. Democrats cut $100,000 beyond that recommendation.

Democrats cut $300,000 from the workers' compensation reserve, but expect that the fund will be found overbudget by an ongoing audit, Bielinski said. Carver said, however, that there is no guarantee the audit will find the account overbudget.

Bielinski said Democrats consulted with the finance department concerning increased investment revenue. Increasing interest rates, she said, are expected to yield a greater return on city investments. She acknowledged, however, that the budget will be tight.

The mayor is expected to use executive power to create some wiggle room in the spending plan. Stewart, for instance, has decided not to hire someone for the full-time Juvenile Justice Center position that Democrats added to the Parks and Recreation budget, Carver said.

The city recently lost the state grant that paid for the JJC and its five full-time employees, who may now face layoffs. Democrats added a JJC position to the budget, stating that the employee would have work to do.

Stewart may also consider hiring freezes or limiting City Hall hours in order to curtail spending, Carver said. He may also consider reorganizing departments or furloughs, according to the release.

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