CAIRO — The City of Cairo is in the beginning phase of work on its FY 2007-08 budget.

The Cairo City Council discussed what should be budget priorities and made suggestions at its Tuesday meeting.

Cairo City Manager William Whitson gave the council a priority list to look through and solicited comments on anything its members felt should be included in the budget to give the department heads the green light to pull together their proposed budgets for the new year.

“We do not have any numbers right now, said Whitson Thursday. “This is really the first major step in the budget process. I’ve asked department heads to put together their budgets and this is the guidelines we are using to help them put together those budgets so they can use them as instructions when putting together their requests.”

Suggestions given by the council included: looking at the fiscal impact of a raise in minimum wage on the budget; and, Mayor Richard VanLandingham suggested having the department heads look at purchases of new vehicles and fuel efficiency.

“I asked that we look at purchasing vehicles and be aware of gas prices continuing to go up,” said VanLandingham on Thursday. “There is not one most important thing that stands out about or in the budget above everything else. We just want to make sure that everything is covered.”

Whitson, in a memo given to the department directors, outlined items to keep in mind when compiling a budget.

These included: no new personnel or positions will be approved unless there is a clear, concise outline as to why it is needed; no operating expenses increases above three to five percent without questioning; and, a breakdown of accounting for items such as repairs and maintenance, rentals, communications and general supplies/materials.

“Anything above a three to five percent increase for operating expenses is going to be questioned heavily and reviewed heavily,” said Whitson. “The accounting categories will help department heads put together their expenses better so we can track them better. It allows them to track things to a finer level of detail and provide for a more improved accountability.”

Whitson said he has set a deadline of March 15 for department heads to have their proposed budgets in to Donna Young, his executive assistant.

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