Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sun Valley adopts 2005-2006 budget

Council allocates $5.6 million for coming year

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley City Council allocated more than $5.5 million for city operations to the 2005-2006 fiscal year budget. Photo by Willy Cook

Following a series of meetings, the Sun Valley City Council last week stamped approval for the 2005-2006 budget.

In a unanimous decision, the council voted Thursday, Aug. 18, in favor of an appropriations ordinance that sets the city's total fiscal spending at $5,646, 528 for the coming year. The new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.

An unsettled budgetary concern will force the council to revisit a proposed pay raise for elected officials.

The approved budget adds $13,200 to the legislative budget for pay raises for the mayor and the City Council. The actual allocation of the funds for salary increases requires the council to approve an additional ordinance.

Following the budget approval, Councilman Lud Renick presented a motion to remove the salary increase from the budget. Renick and Councilman Kevin Laird voted in favor of the motion. Council President Ann Agnew and Councilman Blair Boand dissented.

Mayor Jon Thorson broke the tie, aligning with Agnew and Boand against the motion and thus in favor of the salary increase. Thorson said the salary increase fairly compensates civic service and accounts for the greater workload expected with the 2005 Comprehensive Plan Update.

In accordance with Idaho law, the ordinance must be read three times. After the first reading, the funds remain in the budget, but the allocation of the funds will be determined at a future date.

Under debate is a proposal to set $14,400 as the annual salary for each council member—a $200-per-month increase in salary. The mayor would received $21,600 annually—a $300-per-month increase.

Boand argued the increase might attract younger individuals to serve the city.

"I don't think $200 a month is going to attract one single individual," Renick said.

Sun Valley Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Nils Ribi reminded city officials of their "extremely generous" compensation package. The council's benefits include health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, a retirement plan and a $350 stipend for exercise activities.

With the compensation question to be determined at a later date, the council moved forward to grant a request from the city of Ketchum.

Ketchum requested that Sun Valley contribute $25,000 to pay for services provided by Ketchum's Parks and Recreation Department. The neighboring agency provides youth programs and maintains five public parks utilized by Sun Valley citizens and visitors. Sun Valley does not maintain a public playground or programs for children.

"It would be a benefit to our citizenry," Thorson said.

Thorson stated the funding request equates to 10 percent of Ketchum's Parks and Recreation Department's operating budget. The request for 10 percent derives from findings that 10 percent of the program's participants, as identified by address, are from Sun Valley.

Advocating that the funds would be better directed to support Sun Valley's bike path system, Laird said, "I just don't think we should be part of their budget. We should be taking care of our own recreational facilities."

Agnew disagreed, supporting the request in full. "What Ketchum provides, we don't even come close to providing," she said.

The support for services found unanimous compromise among the council for a $10,000 allocation as a one-year commitment to Ketchum. The motion contained a condition that no program participants would receive preferential treatment, based on their residency.

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