NORTH OGDEN -- The city is feeling the effects of a slow economy, and staff is proposing many cuts for the city council to consider, including some in recreation and city services.
A list of possible cuts was presented to the city council at Tuesday night's meeting. A public hearing will be held on the tentative budget May 10.
The staff presented a balanced budget to the council at its budget retreat in March. That budget left a 5.5 percent reserve in the general fund, one of the lowest in the city's recent history.
The council and mayor wanted to see that number increased, and the proposed cuts would bring the reserve to a little more than 8.3 percent.
The state mandates a minimum reserve of 5 percent in the general fund balance.
Among the cuts, one of the biggest changes was the proposal for city employees to work four 10-hour days and have Fridays off, yielding about $11,000 in utility and gasoline savings to the city.
City Councilman Ron Flamm didn't agree with that proposal.
"I'm concerned with the idea of sneaking in the four-10s workweek. I'm not convinced there is a savings there," he said.
He said he also doesn't like the idea of residents going without access to city employees on Fridays.
He noted that if public works employees have to come in on Fridays, they will be paid overtime, which would cost the city more money.
City Councilman Wade Bigler agreed.
"I want you to remove the four-day workweek," he said, adding he wants to see better numbers that would prove the savings to the city.
Finance Director Debbie Cardenas said exact figures couldn't be produced until the city tried a four-day workweek. She said other Utah cities use the four-day schedule and it has been quite successful. She also compared the idea to the state's four-day schedule.
Funding of $10,000 for Cherry Days was also proposed to be cut. The city is planning on private donations to fund the event and the fireworks.
Not replacing Christmas lights was also proposed as a cost-saving measure.
"We will still have lights," Cardenas said. "They just won't be as bright."
Sports programs will also change.
The staff proposed adding three adult leagues -- volleyball, 3-on-3 basketball and flag football -- to bring in revenue.
The city would also increase registration costs for all sports, although no prices have been decided yet.
Bigler suggested charging more for participants who do not live in the city.
Other items targeted for cuts were office supplies, travel and training.
It is also proposed for the city council to take a pay cut and receive no raises, and for raises to be eliminated for some employees.
Cardenas said the budget cuts are a result of decreased revenue from property taxes and anything relating to construction. She doesn't have a lot of specific numbers at this point, but plans to release them in coming weeks.
The city currently pays 90 percent of employee medical and dental benefit costs, but Bigler suggested the city pay only 70 or 80 percents, which would save the city $50,000 or $100,000.
"It's really easy to say that you want that coverage when the taxpayers are paying for it," he said.
Bigler noted that private companies rarely pay 90 percent of benefits and that many employers are cutting what they pay in insurance.
Councilman Carl Turner didn't agree, saying the city wants to keep its employees and offer that benefit.
Flamm agreed with Turner, saying employees had asked for the increased benefit a few years ago in lieu of raises, and as the city had a wage freeze on employees for the past two years, he doesn't think it's fair to cut benefits.
The council did not take any action on the proposed cuts.