By MATT BLOIS
The City of Brentwood is hoping to do more with less in next year’s budget.
At an all-day meeting about the city’s budget on Thursday, staff and elected officials talked about how to do that.
The city is taking in more money than last year, and plans to spend a bit more as well. But Vice Mayor Mark Gorman encouraged city staff to run Brentwood like they didn’t have extra money. He said that would protect the city from hard times in the future.
“I would challenge everybody to be a miser when it comes to additional full time positions,” he said. “How do we do more with less? How do we get a return on investment?”
Paying employee salaries and benefits is the biggest cost in the budget for the city’s day to day operations. Next year, the city is considering adding five new full time positions. That includes two police officers, a new position in the engineering department, a position to manage public works projects and a new financial analyst.
Gorman questioned whether it would be worth adding those full time positions.
“We don’t want to lay somebody off, but let’s run it like we don’t have the money,” he said.
As an example, he brought up some of the responsibilities that the financial analyst would have. The analyst will work with several city departments to figure out how they could run more efficiently. Part of that job would be managing the city’s water metering system.
Brentwood has started to implement an automated system for reading water meters. The city already has several people that read meters manually. Once the automated system is fully operational later this year, those people won’t have to do that. They will transition to the sewer and water maintenance department where the city needs extra help.
City Manager Kirk Bednar explained that the city hasn’t created new full time maintenance positions despite the need because he knew that those meter readers would eventually move into those positions.
Gorman said that almost sounded like giving those employees make-work to avoid laying people off. He said that up until now the city has been getting by without those positions somehow. But Bednar said that if the city wants to continue providing an acceptable level of service it will have to add more positions eventually.
“Our philosophy, long before I was in this position, has been to do more with less,” Bednar said. “That’s the first question. Do we have to have another person to get that done? All I’m trying to say is, there comes a point … where the answer to me is yes, and that’s why they’re presented to you in this budget.”
Commissioner Anne Dunn and Mayor Jill Burgin said they felt like Brentwood has historically done a good job of providing city services efficiently. They thanked Gorman for bringing up his concerns about the new positions, but applauded city staff for their efficiency.
“It just bother me to hear someone challenge our employees to do more with less because I think that’s what made Brentwood successful over the years,” Dunn said.
The City Commission will review the budget at three separate meetings in May and June. The commission will vote on a first draft of the budget on May 29. They will review the budget again at a meeting on June 12. They will vote on a final draft of the budget on June 25.