Watertown, SD --  The Watertown City Council got a look at next year’s budget last evening when they convened for their annual budget session at city hall. Watertown Mayor Sarah Caron changed up the meeting this year in an attempt to shorten it. The no frills 52 million plus budget calls for a freeze on spending in all departments next year, but does include a pay raise for employees.

With the exception of the zoo there are no new employees in the budget for any departments for next year. The most controversial part of the budget targeted what are called enterprise funds. Those are dollars where the city provides a service and charges for it. The mayor suggested the city look to the Municipal Utility Department and tap into the fire hydrant rentals and street lighting, both of which the utility department charges fees to the city. She said decreasing the fire hydrant rentals would save the city 192,000 while decreasing the street lighting charge to the city would save 552,000 dollars for a net 715,000 dollars savings. Those dollars, she said, in turn could be used to offset the underfunded areas of the city’s budget.

What would this do for the city?

However, Watertown Municipal Utililty Department head Steve Lehner said his board opposes this idea and explained why.

No final decisions will be made on the budget until September.