WINONA, Minn. – The City Council tentatively approved a 2022 budget with $409,000 in cuts. Among casualties: A breakthrough change in policing that would have sent social workers rather than uniformed police officers first to help stressed-out people The cuts were recommended by acting City Manager Chad Ubl. He had been by the Council instructed to balance the new city budget no matter what. In September the Council fired Ubl’s predecessor, City Manager Steve Sarvi, over his reluctance to slash spending. Sarvi had recommended tapping into a reserve fund to cover a $509,900 shortfall. Ubl’s t budget with $409,000 in cuts falls short of the $590,000 target, but Ubl came up with new revenue projections to fill the gap. Here are the cuts as the budget now stands:

> Policing reforms. A $185,000 contract or an Alternate Response Team gone.

>Library. One position gone.

>Police. One position gone. A vacant investigator position would remain unfilled. ,

> Parks and rec. Part-time positions that add up to one full-time position gone. The vacant youth and adult recreation coordinator would be unfilled. A vacant tree crew position would remain unfilled.

> Streets. A maintenance worker position would remain unfilled.

> Administration. An economic development specialist position would remain unfilled.

> Port Authority. Trim $33,000 in office supplies and maintenance.

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Budget dynamics

Is the balanced city 2022budget a miracle? Or a signal of ineptness? Cowardness? Three City Council members among the most adamant for balancing the budget have no experience in municipal budgeting: Council newcomers: Mayor Scott Sherman and Council members  Aaron Repinski and SteveYoung. A reserve fund could have covered shortfalls, which City manager Steve Sarvi, with a career in municipal finance, favored by using the reserve but was fired for it. Because the city cannot continue chopping staff and services forever, it’s certain a further tax increase will be needed eventually. The question: Who lacked the foresight – or courage – to start the wheels turning for a tax increase before opting for the current fiscal bloodbath?

How big is big?

With 2022 city budget at $56 million, the projected $590,000 shortfall  would have been roughly 1%.