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Wabasha approves more service cuts

WABASHA — Wabasha residents will see longer grass in their parks, less police service, less snowplowing, fewer hours to go to city hall and have three fewer weeks at the city pool because of another round of cuts.

City workers will also take two weeks of unpaid leave this year, one will lose a job and the city administrator almost lost his job.

All that has come about because of less money from the state.

The Wabasha City Council on Tuesday cut about $300,000 from its budget because of the state's budget woes, said City Administrator David Schmidt. In the last few years, "we've cut almost $500,000 out of a $2.3 million budget," he said.

It once received $780,000 in local government aid but that has been slashed, he said.


The small council chamber was filled Tuesday night, he said, mostly with people who were asking that programs closest to them, such as parks or the chamber of commerce, not be cut too much, he said.

"There was a lot of hurt that went around," he said. "It was not an easy meeting for anyone."

In order to balance this year, the city decided to eliminate the police sergeant's position. The officer will become a regular officer and the officer with the lowest tenure will lose his job July 1, Schmidt said. The department has a chief and five officers, he said.

At a five-hour meeting last week in which the council debated what to do, one suggestion was to lay off, the city administrator, Schmidt said. The council voted to keep Schmidt. "Everything was on the table," he said.

The cuts might not be done either. The Minnesota Legislature is still debating more cuts and Wabasha now gets about $300,000 in aid, he said. If that is cut, there would be even more reductions in service, Schmidt said.

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