Carbondale's New Mayor Faces Big Challenges

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By Sam Jones
By Benjy Jeffords

JACKSON CO.-- No time to ease into the job for new Carbondale mayor Don Monty. He and the city council face a full agenda in the coming weeks, including possible budget cuts. Leaders are also set to choose a new council member by the end of the month.

A call to order marked the beginning of a new era in Carbondale, one led by long-time city official Don Monty.

“As a city council, as a whole, we need to move forward,” explained Monty.

The top of Monty’s agenda as acting mayor: addressing budget shortfalls that plague the town.

“There are some serious shortfalls of revenue versus expenditures and we need to try to figure out how to deal with that,” he said.

Sales tax revenues are down and expected to remain that way in the next fiscal year. Monty has an idea of how to fix that.

“One way you deal with the revenue side of the budget is with economic development and job creation so there’s more money in the economy,” Monty advised.

But in a volatile economy, City Manager Kevin Baity says the future is uncertain.

“If I had a crystal ball and could see that sales tax revenues are going to increase 6 to 7 percent, we wouldn't have to be here tonight,” Baity admitted.

The painful truth is the solution could include less spending on city projects and services

“It's gonna take some drastic decisions. There could be potential for some cuts,” said Baity.

Decisions Mayor Monty wants to make with a full city council. That’s why the newest member is expected to start at the beginning of March. Just in time for budget hearings.

“If you want to sit on the city council you have to be willing to give up your time to do what's necessary,” Monty said.

The deadline for candidate applications is 12:00 p.m. on Feb. 14. As it rapidly approaches, Monty hopes to renew collaboration between the council and the public.

“People cannot expect the city government to be able to do everything to solve every problem that exists in town. It’s up to everybody in the community to work together to solve our common problems,” Monty added.

Carbondale leaders expect to have their first budget hearing at the beginning of April, with a final vote on the numbers by the end of that month.

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