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Faced with cuts, Alexandria holds off on hiring police officers

Alexandria won't be adding the two police officers it planned to hire this year.

City department heads will also hold off making any major equipment purchases until at least July.

The Alexandria City Council took the budget-cutting measures at Monday's meeting to deal with an unexpected $226,000 cut in local government aid (LGA).

Governor Tim Pawlenty decided to "unallot" already-budgeted 2008 LGA payment to cities and counties last month in order to balance the state's budget, which was $426 million in the red.

Because of possible further cuts in LGA, the city decided to put off making any new major purchases until it has a better understanding of how deep those cuts will be.

The $226,000 cut in LGA amounts to 4.3 percent of the city's revenues.

The salaries and benefits of hiring the new officers would have cost the city between $120,000 and $130,000, according to City Administrator Jim Taddei.

The aid cut is frustrating, Taddei noted, because it involves money the city had already put in its 2008 budget.

"We can't go back to our employees or our suppliers and ask for our money back," Taddei said. "It doesn't leave us with many alternatives."

Council member Sara Carlson said she hopes the Legislature can let the city know quickly - as early as February or March - about its 2009 LGA so it will have time to make adjustments. "But I'm guessing that won't happen," she added.