As the city’s purse strings continue to tighten, Washougal Mayor Sean Guard has issued a pay freeze for all non-represented employees. He’s also calling on two city unions to begin contract discussions a year early.The freeze is effective Jan. 1, 2011, and affects cost-of-living and step increases and longevity pay. The city has 15 non-represented employees who hold department head and management positions.The decision is the result of growing deficits in the city’s general fund caused by rising employee costs and diminished revenue. The projected deficits for 2011, 2012 and 2013 were forecast in July to be $1.3 million, $1.45 million and $1.6 million, respectively. Since then, the deficit projections have been reduced significantly due to cost-reduction measures implemented this year.Freezing salaries is expected to save about $35,000 in 2011.“While the total amount of dollars saved through this action are not significant against larger deficits, we need to make a start and then continue to work with all of our employees — the people who are doing the work — to help us identify other savings,” Guard said in a news release.If the city cannot find other ways to save, additional action will be necessary. City Administrator David Scott said those actions could include reducing services and staff reductions — a direction Guard has said he wants to avoid.