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Jun 9, 2010 2:11 PM by Ariel Wesler

City leaders prepare to squeeze out a balanced budget

The Santa Maria city council is expected to approve the 2010-2012 budget next week, but city leaders say they don't see the city's financial situation improving anytime soon. The city is currently in a hiring freeze and says employee furlough days will likely continue through the end of 2011.

The city will not fund 12 positions to help fill an 8 million dollar budget gap--six are in public safety and will result in the elimination of the DARE program.

City Manager Tim Ness says every major revenue source in the city has experienced a loss. As a result, the general fund is down 15 percent from last year. He says the city will not be adding any new services or expanding services.

"We're trying to maintain current services as much as possible and we can't even do that," Ness said.

He says the city used some of its reserves to funds services, but those are dwindling fast. Reserves have dropped from $11.7 million to $1.7 million in less than 4 years.

Tonight on KSBY News Special Edition at 8:00, we'll have details on how your money is being spent and how the city looks to solve its budget woes.

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