Friday, October 31, 2008

Questions and Answers: Bellevue City Council

1. With reductions in city and state revenues, which city services would you choose to cut back on in the coming year?

2. Bellevue is behind in its street maintenance. How do you plan to keep city streets in good repair?

3. Do you see a need for Bellevue to consolidate its fire department with the county's fire and rescue operations? Why or why not?

4. Should the city of Bellevue annex Slaughterhouse Canyon property? Why or why not?

Shaun Mahoney

AGE: 48

PARTY: Independent

GOV'T EXPERIENCE: Bellevue City Councilman (five years)

OCCUPATION: Restaurant owner

1. We already cut many pieces of the budget from many departments this year. We will have to see what happens with the economy by early summer to see where to go from there.

2. We need to finish our street standards and then identify the streets that need attention first and then start planning. In the meantime, we need to find a way to repair our streets until we find funding to replace them.

3. Our first year under contract with the Blaine County Sheriff's Office has gone really well, in my opinion. In the next two years we need to take that success and apply it to our fire services. That means working with the Hailey Fire Department and Wood River Fire and Rescue. With everybody's budget getting leaner, we need to take a comprehensive look at working together to provide the best service possible and hopefully saving money for each department.

4. We will have the Strayhorn (Slaughterhouse Canyon) annexation before us in the near future. Bellevue's annexation staff and our council have worked overtime to put together a really nice annexation. We are getting close to finishing this project, and if it keeps going forward the way it has, it will be a benefit to Bellevue.

Chris Koch

AGE: 40

PARTY: Independent

GOV'T EXPERIENCE: Bellevue city councilman (five years)

OCCUPATION: Landscaping/retail

1. Hopefully none, but with these projected revenue reductions it just means we are going have to be more creative when it comes time for the budgeting process. When push comes to shove, council and staff are going to have to tighten their belts and keep spending down.

2. With routine maintenance and a time line that might allow us to do a few streets at a time. Most of all, keep up on the bigger problems.

3. I think that all the fire departments should look at consolidation, not just Bellevue.

4. I am not able to comment on this piece of property, due to a conflict of interest.

Brett K. Gelskey

AGE: 49

PARTY: Independent

GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: Former president of the Sawtooth Snow Machine Club (four years), Former president of the Blaine County Gun Club

OCCUPATION: Manager of Ohio Gulch Recycle Center

1. The budget for Bellevue does not call for, nor is in need of cutting back on any city services. I think the city should look at the contract with the Blaine County Sheriff's Office to see if there is room for improvement and/or possible cuts in spending. Consolidation of fire and rescue departments with the county's will help with future budget concerns.

2. The streets of Bellevue are an ongoing problem. I don't think that everything can be fixed at once. I think there will have to be a balance of all the city's projects, present and future, as well as in each department, to see that we can budget street maintenance.

3. I would have to look at the level of service we would get from consolidating with the county. The fire departments already help each other out when needed. Making sure that the level of service won't change and budget concerns would be my deciding factors.

4. I am not against annexing Slaughterhouse canyon into Bellevue city limits. We need to look at the impact this will have on current and future services. Water, sewer and power would all be concerns. We would have to see what the developers would be willing to work out with the city.

Tammy Eaton

AGE: 39

PARTY: Democrat

GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: Bellevue City Council (eight years)

OCCUPATION: Fundraising/events coordinator for Blaine County Senior Center

1. With the proposed reductions of funding in the coming year, this reflects the importance of strategic planning and budgeting for outcomes within the city of Bellevue. Unlike business planning, where you actually have set funding, strategic planning looks at how you can provide your services when met with challenging factors. Strategic Planning will help the city prioritize the goals and objectives that need to be completed, versus taking the approach of "where do we cut."

2. We have recently completed a master transportation plan and are currently assessing our maintenance plan as well. With these plans in place, we will better be able to assess how to properly build and maintain our infrastructure. With these plans in place, we will also be able to properly apply for any federal funding that is available. Without these plans, we would not qualify; with the competition for funding as great as it is, planning and outlining our actions will really assist the city in accomplishing its goals with regard to street maintenance.

3. I believe that contracting with other agencies, or consolidating emergency services, makes sense for everyone. As I continue to state: "Emergency services know no boundaries." As community leaders, we have to build the foundations that will serve our communities not just today, but into the future. In these tumultuous economic times, we can strategically position our community budgets to reflect "best practices" by not wasting financial resources, and build our emergency services teams to serve the entire community, not just Bellevue. We do this by working together.

4. The Slaughterhouse Canyon annexation area is within the forecasting of our comprehensive plan, appropriate for annexation into the city limits. The developer complied with every necessary step over the past two years, including many P&Z hearings, public hearings and intense review from our city planner, city administrator and annexation group. The annexation request fulfills the city of Bellevue's comprehensive goals and objectives. The project is under final review and at public hearings at the City Council level. I will make a final decision once everything has been presented and considered by the council in whole.

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