Ketchum Council drafts $14.1 million
Public hearing on spending plan
set for Sept. 2
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
Ketchum City Council members Monday, Aug.
18, unanimously approved a resolution to adopt an approximately $14.1 million
budget for the 2003-2004 fiscal year.
The approved budget includes $7,868,458 in
expenditures through the city’s general fund, $3,473,855 in spending through the
city’s water and wastewater funds, and an additional $2,755,500 allocated
through other funds.
The council will conduct a public hearing
on the approved budget on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at noon in Ketchum City Hall. The
panel at that meeting will be expected to establish the final budget. In the
process, it will be permitted to decrease expenditures, but cannot add to the
city’s proposed expenses.
Council members on Monday did not make any
cuts to the city’s proposed general fund expenses, which exceed revenues by
approximately $527,000. To balance the general fund, city officials have agreed
to subtract the balance from the city’s cash reserves, leaving its estimated
cash "fund balance" for the 2003-2004 fiscal year at just over $495,000.
The city’s new fiscal year will begin Oct.
1 and end on Sept. 30, 2004.
The city’s current 2002-2003 budget
allocated approximately $8.1 million through the city’s general fund. The city
is expected to spend approximately $395,000 from its cash fund balance this
The city started the current fiscal year
with approximately $1.4 million in cash reserves, a figure that could be cut by
nearly two-thirds by the end of the 2003-2004 fiscal year.
City Administrator Ron LeBlanc has
repeatedly warned the council that the city needs to ensure in future years that
its annual expenses do not exceed revenues.
Councilman Maurice Charlat last week said
he wants to re-establish a minimum $1 million cash reserve by the end of the
2005-2006 fiscal year. He said he wants the city to explore cutting healthcare
costs, raising fees and accumulating savings garnered by individual department
heads in their own budgets.
LeBlanc on Tuesday said he is generally
supportive of the council’s plan to double its reserves by 2006. "I think the
approach the council is taking to improve the budget over the next two years is
appropriate," LeBlanc said. "I’m always looking for ways to improve the budget,
and I think we can do better."
The tentatively approved 2003-2004 budget
A substantial increase in the Parks and Recreation Department budget, from
approximately $399,000 this year to $466,000.
Adequate funds to grant city employees a 1.5 percent cost-of-living pay
increase, the same percentage applied in the 2002-2003 budget.
Increases in the salary budgets for several city departments, in part to
maintain several department head salary hikes issued during the current budget
A large increase in the Ketchum Communications Center budget—from approximately
$446,000 this year to $625,000 next year. The increase in large part can be
attributed to an increase in the salary budget to support new staff.
Approximately $400,000 for capital improvement projects. If the city saves
money or receives adequate local-option-tax revenues, it will consider
resurfacing First Avenue, a project that had been planned for completion this
Funding for numerous service contracts, including $30,000 for the Peak Bus,
$65,500 for the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority, $369,700 for the Ketchum-Sun
Valley Chamber & Visitors Bureau, $38,500 for Wood River Rideshare and nearly
$466,000 for the KART bus system.
The council on Aug. 27 is scheduled to
discuss a salary survey commissioned by the city, in order to assess whether
city employee salaries are in line with other Western resort cities.