Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ketchum foresees tight but ‘stable’ budget

Projected revenues down slightly

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum's leaders on Tuesday took an initial look at the city's preliminary budget overview for fiscal year 2011-12—a year that may provide some optimism, if only because major revenue declines are not expected.

Ketchum City Administrator Gary Marks presented the preliminary budget overview to council members during a special meeting.

"We're in an environment of stable, but flat budget," he said. "There's no fun in flat, but maybe there's a little bit of security."

Projected revenue collections are estimated to be $4,797,000 for FY 2011-2012, a little less than the 2010-11 estimate of $4,890,900. General fund expenditures for the coming fiscal year are projected as just over $5,017,300, compared with the FY 2010-11 estimated figure of about $5,230,600.

"We're not seeing any reason to get our hopes up," Mayor Randy Hall said in an interview. However, he said, "the city's in great shape relative to other cities in Idaho and other cities around the country."

The proposed budget objectives, which the council unanimously approved to guide the process, are to maintain overall spending levels at or near the current fiscal year's; maintain the general fund balance at or above 17 percent of operating revenues; create separate capital improvement funds for streets, parks, fire and law enforcement departments; review cost allocations for general fund materials and services expenses; and develop a transition plan in the event of Utilities Department Manager Steve Hansen's possible retirement next summer.

One budget expenditure funded from a separate source is a request made by Hall for $90,000 to pay for a comprehensive plan update. The plan, last updated for 2001, is a guiding document that identifies the city's goals and policies for growth and development. Funding for that could come from a lease payment from the Northwood Place housing project, which is on city-owned land. The payment was made by the developer this fiscal year but will carry forward to next year's budget.

Marks is recommending increasing the contingency fund to 5 percent of operating revenue.

Councilman Curtis Kemp asked whether adding to the contingency fund—doubling it to Marks' recommended $250,000—would come at the expense of departments' requests for increased funding.

"We should know the sacrifices that have to be made," Kemp said, to build up the contingency fund.

Marks replied that he believes the city should be in a healthy position before agreeing to increase departments' budgets.

Marks said he will work with department heads to help them develop their proposed budgets.

"I will recommend we stay with the amounts we have provided in the last couple of years," he said.

Department heads, however, may ask for more. They will go before the council in August to make their requests.

"You guys are the final decision-makers," Hall told the council.

A public hearing on a proposed budget will be held in September.

Rebecca Meany:

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