In the end, there were no magic bullet ideas to allow the City of Williamsport to balance its budget for 2013 without a tax increase while maintaining 2012 service levels.
Barring a surprising turn of events before final approval Thursday night, city taxpayers will be paying an additional mill of real estate tax, $100 more per year for a household assessed at $100,000.
Taxpayers and residents of Williamsport also will be making do with a police force down three officers and a Streets and Parks Department with two fewer employees.
It could have been worse. Budget discussions started with the city looking at a possible 3- or 4-mill tax increase.
But there are elephants in the room beyond the $21 million budget that will allow the City of Williamsport to function in 2013.
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana wants to reduce the city fire department's size in the future and perhaps contract out some of the fire response manpower.
The city is staring down the barrel of heavily underfunded pensions with no particular go-to place for the needed additional funds to pay for those pensions.
Clearly, the budget equation will only get tougher in future years.
It will take practical vision and a cooperative attitude for the administration and the City Council to avoid even tougher budget outcomes in future years.