Budget shortfalls affect Jefferson City residents

JeffTran is one service that could be removed from the city budget.

City council members in Jefferson City met recently to go over the budget situation, and major cuts have been proposed to widely-used services.

The city is $1.7 million in debt, which officials say has created a problem that will have to be solved by reducing costs or making drastic changes. Those changes could greatly affect city employees and residents who use these services daily.

Targeted services include JC-TV, which sits on the Lincoln University campus. It is owned by the city, but journalism students at the school use it for class work. According to a lengthy document given to officials, the city

would save $110,000 if it is eliminated next year.

The police, public works and fire department all face overtime reduction, an estimated combined savings of $111,000. The animal shelter has already removed two part-time positions, and faces a $50,000 cut. Of that, $19,000 is strictly for animal care, and another $11,000 is for an additional part-time position.

The largest city service on the docket to be removed is JeffTran, the city-wide bus line that serves an estimated 1,200 riders each day.

If completely taken out of the city budget, the document says the city would save $450,000 for the short term, and $899,000 in future years.

On paper, it appears to be the easiest place to make cuts, but drivers and riders say that, in reality, it would drastically upset their livelihood.
A few drivers said they're concerned not only about losing their jobs, but about the people they drive around.

One driver said he's especially worried about the kids he drives to and from school every day. One passenger said she has been riding the bus for almost a decade to work, school and even the doctor's office.

The only other option for riders are taxi cabs, which are more expensive than bus fare.

The city council will meet again on Monday, March 11, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to continue discussing the budget situation.