July 15, 2001 11:00 pm

The Jaws of Life emergency extraction tool works fine for the La Grande Fire Department.

But a new high-tech inflatable air bag that can lift objects as heavy as locomotives would be quicker and safer.

However, the new equipment is not in the 2002 city budget.

Various departments had wanted new computers and software to be able to work more efficiently. Few will get them. The library director had wanted a few new shelves, but theyre out, too.

City Manager Wes Hare, seeking to have an acceptable cash carry over for the next fiscal year, asked all department heads to trim back or eliminate their capital outlay for the 2002 budget. The budget committee concurred in passing the budget last week.

The city defines capital outlay as items costing more than $1,000 and having a life of more than a year. The 2001 budget contained $344,390 for such items. Thats trimmed to $68,500 for 2002.

Because property tax payments do not come into the city coffers until November, the city must have about a $1 million cash carryover at the end of this fiscal year, June 30, to meet expenses during the first four months of the fiscal year.

We can get through the next fiscal year without major capital expenditures, Hare said.

He pointed out that the city has already set aside $2.2 million in reserves for building a new fire hall and a library. The fire station, with

construction expected to start next month, will cost $1.5 million, leaving $700,000 for the library. The city is hopeful of getting grants to help finish that.

Im confident we will have over $2 million for the library, Hare said.

He said the city could make up some capital expenses during the year or in future years, especially if money coming into the city is more than anticipated.

In the past, we have been

conservative in estimating our