It is still early in Baton Rouge’s fiscal year, but parish officials warned the Metropolitan Council last week that revenues are in the doldrums.

Assistant chief administrative officer John Carpenter and finance director Marsha Hanlon told council members that at current levels of spending and revenue, the parish-city government faces a $5.8 million deficit by December.

The $283.1 million general fund budget was based on a 1% increase in sales tax collections in 2010 from 2009. January’s sales tax revenue was down 12% from January 2009, to $11.9 million. The sales tax provides 54% of general fund revenue. Gambling revenue was off by 26%.

Carpenter said it is too early to make long-range predictions, but a hiring freeze will be imposed for most positions and overtime will be reduced. Sales tax collections through December must increase by 2.6% to cover the current budget.

The combined government includes the city of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish.

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