GREENCASTLE -- All city departments will see a 5 percent decrease in their operating budgets in 2011.
The Greencastle Common Council approved the first reading of the 2011 budget at Tuesday's meeting.
Once again, all department heads were asked to cut 5 percent from their budgets to conserve money, as the approved funds by the state are expected to continue to fall.
"Department heads did a really good job with no complaining to us. Everybody is just finding ways. I wish we had better ways to do stuff," council president Adam Cohen said.
"I'm sure it wasn't easy for them to find a way to cut their budgets," councilor Phyllis Rokicki added.
Council members commended city employees for continuing to find ways to make things work and keep equipment running.
"We've cut budgets every year," councilor TJ Smith said.
The projected tax rate for 2011 is $1.03, which would be an increase from this year.
"If the assessed valuation goes down, then the rate is going to go up, and our assessed valuation is down," Clerk-Treasurer Teresa Glenn said.
The council also had to approve additional appropriations from the rainy day fund to help with the remainder of the year.
The city changed health insurance companies effective Sept. 1. This means employees who already met their 2010 deductibles now have new deductibles to meet.
The new money is to help employees meet this amount, as they should not be punished for changing companies.
"Health care costs continue to go up, and we want to make sure we do everything we can to help our employees," Mayor Sue Murray said.
"This still isn't making it up to the employees, but we're just trying the best we can to do something," Cohen said.
The council approved a pair of special requests that go along with Halloween celebrations in the community.
Trick-or-treaters will have the chance to visit downtown businesses from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 29. Like a year ago, the city will close Indiana St. from Poplar to Walnut so kids can cross safely between the Greencastle Fire Department to First Christian Church.
Additionally, the inaugural Halloween Fun Run will be Oct. 30 at 9 a.m. The run will follow the same route as the July 4 Rokicki run. Runners, walkers and dog owners are all encouraged to take part in this non-competitive fitness event. People are also free to wear Halloween costumes as part of the fun.
On a sad note, Murray noted that former Greencastle Utilities Supervisor George Russell died on Oct. 3 after a battle with cancer.
Russell worked for the city until the disease forced his retirement last year. In his time, he oversaw the process of combining the city's water and wastewater departments.
"He did an awful lot to bring two departments together as one, and we as a community are indebted to him. He has been sorely missed since he was forced to retire due to his health," Murray said. "Our condolences go out to his wife and family."