Mayor announces plan to cut expenses in city government

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Marked Tree mayor Lawrence W. Ashlock announced last week that the city of Marked Tree plans to take steps in the next few weeks to cut expenses and streamline city government.

The plan, obtained by the Tribune last week calls for the following steps to occur: (1) there will be no purchases made without a purchase order, approved and signed by the Mayor; (2) all cell telephones are cancelled; (3) some uniform contracts will be cancelled; (4) no nice to have items; (5) emergency repairs only to equipment; (6) curtail utilities, including cutting off the antique lights on Main St. at night; (7) no overtime; (8) housekeeping mats will be cancelled; (9) no out of town travel or schools unless approved by the Mayor; (10) employees will go to a four-day work week, beginning April 1 until further notice; (11) pest control contract for City Hall will be cancelled and (12) picking up refrigerators, mattresses, stoves and other large items will be curtailed or stopped all together. The city will also go to a twice a year clean up cycle, to pick up items.

In an interview last week, Mayor Ashlock told the Tri-City Tribune that the steps are being taken because of the slumping economy and a lack of tax revenue coming into the city. Ashlock said, "The plan will not effect police or fire protection and the four-day week will not effect police or water department employees. We simply cannot and will not cut back on police. If we did, there would be an effect on the safety and peace of mind of our citizens."

Mayor Ashlock also reiterated that added costs, through retirement plans, health insurance premiums and mandated costs, such as improving water equipment along with a loss in turnback money, due to a loss of 300 residents in the last ten years in Marked Tree have played a role in the problem.

Ashlock stated that once sales tax revenues improved, the city could be back in good shape financially. The plan takes effect Tuesday.

However, the plan likely will be discussed April 14, when the Marked Tree City Council meets for its monthly meeting.

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