Budget Cuts Can't Be Avoided, Coleman Tells Council

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Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman made a rare appearance before City Council on Monday night to emphasize the city's financial crisis and promote his proposed budget cuts.

The city is facing an $80 million shortfall, and Coleman has proposed laying off city workers, freezing the pay of those who work in his administration, closing swimming pools and recreation centers and cutting payments to social-service agencies, 10TV's Kevin Landers reported.

"It is difficult, it will be difficult, and it will continue to be difficult, but we have to rise above it," Coleman said.

The mayor also proposed scrapping police recruit classes for next year and not hiring any new police or firefighters.

At Monday night's council meeting, city leaders received more troubling news.

Money from property and income taxes is expected to be flat next year. Investments that two years ago brought in $33 million are expected to generate only half that amount in 2009.

"What is most ominous for 2009 is that I don't see any improvement forthcoming in these resources," City Auditor Hugh Dorrian said.

Coleman refused to rule out raising taxes if the city's finances do not improve.

"There is going to be a need in our community for additional revenue at the end of the day," Coleman told reporters after the meeting.

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