Budget season open in Hailey
Transportation to drive focus of
By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer
Hailey City Administrator Jim Azumano this
week delivered a scaled back budget proposal for the 2004-2005 fiscal year.
Presented as the first in a series of
workshops leading up to a July 26 budget hearing, the Hailey City Council will
be discussing budget issues at each city council meeting prior to the July
deadline, said Hailey city clerk Heather Dawson.
"This was the first stab at the budget,"
said Mayor Susan McBryant.
Initially showing a 2 percent reduction in
the budget, the city is trying to loosen up funds for new priorities set out at
a goal setting meeting held earlier in the year, she said.
So far, Azumano has presented
recommendations for the city’s general and bond funds. It was the first chance
for the mayor and city council to view the proposed budget.
At the next two council meetings, members
will review water and sewer user and replacement funds and capital improvement
funds. They will begin to make comments on whether the budget is in line with
the city’s goals.
The proposed general fund budget for
fiscal year 2004-2005 is $4.5 million. Last year the budget was $4.6 million.
Azumano explained that the city’s approach
to looking at the budget is two fold. City leaders are focused on identifying
goals for the city that will drive the budget. City staff is focused on
determining if services are being provided efficiently and effectively to
achieve those goals.
Last year, one of McBryant’s goals was to
boost base salary levels for city staff. One of the new goals for the city is to
improve transportation infrastructure to improve pedestrian safety, she added.
The city plans to scale back department
budgets in several areas to accommodate the new goal. Employees can expect to
see regular raises, McBryant said. But, some department goals may not be
For example, two places where Azumano said
the city may "hold the line" on the budget is by eliminating contracting of
construction plans for a new fire station and overtime budgeted for snow
Public comment on any budget question will
be heard at all city council meetings until the official public hearing Aug. 16,
which is a statutory hearing when the council sets a budget above which it
McBryant said as the city deals with a 7
percent growth rate the community is financially healthy, but diminished levels
of service could also include eliminating a patrol officer position that was
budgeted as well as a reduction in library service.
Currently, the city is working on a land
acquisitions map that will identify parcels the city would take for improving
the transportation infrastructure.
"We are working to bring out the costs of
acquiring that land," Dawson said. "By July we’ll be talking about the costs we
expect to have and how (improvements) .can or cannot be achieved."
Dawson said that through the new budget
the city is also trying to show the true costs of service to the community.
Department heads have been asked to calculate actual costs for providing ideal
levels of service.
"Jim has helped a great deal," McBryant
said. "He sat down with departments and went through their budgets line by line,
even looking at what it costs for police to have their shirts pressed. It
(budget analysis) takes hours. It is why we hired an administrator."
As the city examines what it takes for
government to function, McBryant said one thing that is clear is that the city
must aggressively make money if any pending annexations are approved or services
will decline further.
An annexation application for of the
Quigley Ranch is expected soon, McBryant said. In addition, an application for
the Justus Ranch off Broadford Road may soon be re-submitted. The Cutters Ranch
application is currently under review by the city council.
"All (annexation proposals) are
interesting considerations. (The proposed budget) gives the council a clearer
idea of city goals. It will make their decisions easier to make," McBryant said.