Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ketchum reveals proposed budget

Mayor and City Council to hold all-day work session Friday

Express Staff Writer

An all-day work session this Friday will bring together the Ketchum mayor, City Council and city staff to review the proposed $9.2 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

"This budget addresses community needs and council goals, while maintaining strict financial controls," Mayor Randy Hall said in a news release.

Hall's budget represents a 1.23 percent increase over last year's total. Per Idaho law, cities can increase their property-tax-related budget revenues by no more than 3 percent each year.

The increases come in part from two additional positions in the Streets Department, a cost-of-living increase for city employees and health insurance increases.

Much of the preliminary work was done in previous work sessions with a newly implemented "issues management" system. Under the committee approach, council members are assigned issues on which to work with department heads and other city staffers.

In consideration with what Hall called "unfairness of the property tax system in Idaho," the budget seeks to increase revenue sources paid by tourists and developers.

"The residents of Ketchum will not be asked to pay for the impacts of growth with their property taxes," he said.

The city is in good financial health, according to Hall.

"We will have a general fund balance of $1,197,219 at the end of the budget," he said. "In addition, over $1 million is in reserve in the capital improvements fund dedicated to undergrounding power lines, new streetscape and a variety of needed projects in the downtown."

The fund balance decreased by $151,018 this fiscal year due to a heavy snow year, and payment to economic development consultant Tom Hudson for his work on the city's downtown master plan. The budget calls for another $197,243 from the balance in fiscal year 2007. That would leave $1,197,219 in the general fund at the end of fiscal year 2007.

Anticipated revenue from residential building wasn't figured into the budget because it's not certain when the all-residential building moratorium in the Commercial Core and Tourist zones will be lifted.

"With a moratorium there was no development in the core," said City Administrator Ron LeBlanc. "When it's lifted I would expect we will exceed our revenue projections for next year."

The first moratorium was replaced in March by an interim ordinance, which expires after one year. That date could be moved up if and when regulatory language in the downtown master plan, unveiled in draft form this week, replaces it.

LeBlanc said the city's "form-based code" zoning ordinance could be ready by fall.

The budget discussion will take place Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at City Hall, 480 East Ave. N.

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