The El Centro City Council voted to move ahead with some of the city's spending priorities despite projected deficits in incoming years.
The priorities include hiring additional firefighters, purchasing defibrillating machines and hiring a risk manager to help reduce the city's $3 million outlay for workers' compensation claims.
According to a confidential report made available to the council but not released to the public, the city has had 149 workers' comp claims since 1997. More than 20 percent of the city's workforce has filed claims.
"I can't believe that we can stay in business," said Mayor Larry Grogan.
With current revenues and expenditures, the city is facing a budget deficit in 2004 of $59,110. By 2006, the deficit would rise to $4.2 million. With current revenues and increased expenditures as requested by all city departments, the deficits would begin in 2003 at $289,623 and by 2006 reach $15.8 million.