Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Bellevue brings budget to public

Hearing set for Aug. 25

Express Staff Writer

Final adjustments to balance Bellevue's cash-strapped coffers were made Thursday, Aug. 11, with a vote from City Council to bring the proposed 2005-2006 budget to a public hearing. Over the summer, the council carved away at city services to bring the city's financial demands in line with revenues.

The council—except absent council members Vivian Ivie and Jon Wilkes—unanimously voted to bring the proposed budget to citizens at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, for a formal public hearing. The council will likely approve the budget following the session.

The council voted in favor of a general fund budget of $1,352,096. The budget calculates a balanced water fund of $379,000 and a balanced sewer fund of $412,100.

"I'm impressed (the budget) all works out," Councilman Chris Koch said.

Over the course of budget discussions, the council battled with a $123,000 general-fund budget deficit. The council crunched figures, shadowed by a failed attempt to raise property tax rates that would have added $300,000 to the city's treasury.

The lack of funds forced the council to eliminate its full-time fire chief position, slash street improvements and deny additional requests for police personnel.

The troubled budgetary process prompted a positive change to include dedicated funds in a new category to track fund-raising efforts, special donations and special funds.

"We have a lot of fund raising that has been dedicated to a specific purpose. Those (funds) haven't been tracked as well as they should have been," City Administrator Tom Blanchard said.

The council requested an audit that will return monies previously raised for specific special projects to the intended use. The 2005-2006 budget allocates dedicated funds to the Park Committee, Tree Committee and Library Department that will carry over in future fiscal years as dedicated funds for specific projects.

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