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Thursday, August 25th, 2005 -- 1:39 PM

Neillsville's mayor says she feels "comfortable" as the city heads toward budget-writing time. Appearing on The Mayor's Office Thursday morning, Mayor Diane Murphy said the city's finance committee will begin constructing the budget at a meeting on September 13th.

The state budget includes a property tax freeze. Murphy said the freeze might not have a big impact on the city's budget.

"Our levy (last year) was $893,176. We had a debt service of $274,700. That leaves a levy of $618,476. We can only raise that by 2%. We can only raise our levy by $12,300," Murphy explained. "We feel comfortable with that. We hope we don't have to raise it at all."

Murphy notes the city has cut a position through attrition and is only facing a one-percent health insurance increase, compared to 14-percent last year.

Clark County has sent letters to all of its employees warning them they may have to cut up to 30 jobs because of a tight budget. Murphy says it doesn't appear the City will be in the same boat.

"I don't think we'll have to. We have to see what the bottom-line comes to. We're in union negotiations right now and we'll see what they'll bring in," Murphy said. "We're going to look at any future retirements, though. We'll study those to make sure they need to be filled."

"Let's face it, the number crunch is on, but we also have to have the jobs done. We have to have the streets fixed, we have to have the parks maintained. We have to keep the city moving forward."

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