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40 City of Lawton jobs may be cut

LAWTON, Okla._As part of the proposed 2016 budget presented to the City Council Wednesday, more than 40 city positions could be cut.

That would likely lead to delays in city projects and longer lines to pay your bills. It's an $89 million plan, but during Wednesday's public workshop, Councilman Doug Wells said that number is way too high, and could easily be reduced.

Wells says $89 million in expenditures for 2016 is too high and expects the adjustments to estimate about $85 million in spending.

"That should give them a budget that would allow them to operate for the year, at minimum levels," explained Wells.

He says there would still be opportunities for budgetary increases should revenue be more than what is anticipated.

"Then the money will be there to budget that and do a supplemental budget and give them an extra $200,000," explained Wells.

Assistant City Manager Jim Russell says the council's recommendations were appreciated.

"The council gave us direction that we needed, we presented a balanced budget, we knew it wasn't going to be a popular budget, we knew there were some hard decisions to make," said Russell.

Russell says it's easy to reduce spending for equipment and supplies, but making personnel cuts are the hardest.

"It's a very difficult decision to say we just can't afford to fund your position for this next year," said Russell.

Wells also recognized the need for personnel cuts, but suggested it be done systematically.

"We would cut 23, but they're positions that are already vacant. We wouldn't cut any position that had anybody in it right now,” said Wells.

From here, Russell says they will take a few steps back and re-work some numbers.

"We'll take a hard look at our expenditures, and our spending habits," said Russell.

After Councilman Wells' suggestions, a second workshop that was scheduled for Thursday has been canceled. The council will meet again to discuss the adjustments at a later date.

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