Columbia City Council will not hire a city manager in the coming year to help save money.
Council is trying to cut $1.3 million from next year’s budget to offset a projected multi-million-dollar shortfall in revenues.
Assistant City Manager Steve Gantt has been acting city manager since Charles Austin retired March 31 with an annual salary of $161,139.
Gantt is getting some help from Michael King, Columbia’s former 911 communications director, who last week was named to the newly created post of director of public safety. King, who will earn $110,000 - a $17,300-a-year raise from what he earns now - will supervise the police, fire, homeland security and 911 departments.
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Austin announced his retirement unexpectedly in January after council members were on the verge of giving him an unfavorable job review - largely because of the city’s inability to budget accurately for health care expenses, which led to multi-million dollar deficits in some city funds.
Austin will work for the city through June 30 as a consultant for the 2007-2008 budget audit. He will be paid roughly $40,000 for those three months.
The city also is currently without a chief financial officer, amid one of the biggest financial crunches residents have seen in some time.
Council members still must cast two votes before July 1 to approve the budget for 2009-10. Council is meeting today for a budget workshop.