SHAMOKIN - City council struggled Wednesday to identify additional cuts in expenses in its 2014 spending plan.

An additional $21,500 was added to revenue expectations for next year's general fund budget during a special council meeting at City Hall. That dropped the estimated deficit to $297,811.20.

Councilmen William Milbrand and William Strausser along with Mayor George Rozinskie, Treasurer Brenda Scandle and Controller Gary Haddock met for more than 30 minutes before the councilmen and mayor convened a closed door executive session to discuss personnel issues.

"Well, we're spinning our wheels folks," Milbrand said during the public portion of the meeting, seeing a need to discuss personnel in private.

City council also met in executive session Tuesday night to discuss personnel. Many issues were discussed, Strausser said, but it didn't yet result in any changes to the budget.

Council's original estimated deficit was $616,081.58 when it adopted its preliminary 2014 general fund budget on Nov. 27. Spending had been projected at $2,932,587.58 compared to revenues at $2,316,506.01.

It's held five special budget meetings since Dec. 12, reducing the deficit by $318,270.38. Health care benefits were taken away from council members and the city solicitor, computer expenses for the police department and cell phones for public safety were cut, among other reductions. Adjustments were also made in revenues, including on Wednesday when $6,500 was added to a health insurance co-pay line item and $15,000 in salary for the part-time code officer shifted to a reimbursable line item for Community Development Block Grant money.

Council will again meet for a special budget meeting at 6 p.m. today. A vote on a final budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday.

A hearing will be held at 2:30 p.m. today in Northumberland County Court to consider the city's petition to allow real estate taxes to be assessed at 30 mills, 5 mills higher than the maximum allowed by law. It will be the sixth consecutive year the city has sought the exception, which was recommended to Shamokin by the Department of Community and Economic Development when it was first accepted into the Early Intervention Program in 2008. The city is now entering Phase 3 of the program.