Friday, June 3, 2011

Sun Valley starts budget process with info session

Preliminary budget set to come June 21


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Sensitivity to a tight municipal budget is guiding organizations' requests for funding from the city of Sun Valley. Presentations made to the City Council and mayor by area agencies on Tuesday were intended to help city leaders set expenses for the coming fiscal year.

The special meeting facilitated discussion among council members and organizations that have external contracts with the city. The presentations and questions by the council will guide Mayor Wayne Willich as he builds the fiscal 2012 budget.

"It's the wool gathering," Willich said in an interview. "We're getting the data, and asking some questions."

Taking into consideration the funding requests as well as council comments on those requests, he will prepare a preliminary budget and present it to the council on June 21.

"(This) just helps the process move along a lot faster," he said.

Representatives from multiple entities presented information: Frederick Allington, city attorney; Kathy Grotto, executive director of Blaine County Housing Authority; Jason Miller, executive director of Mountain Rides Transportation Authority; Carol Waller, director of Fly Sun Valley Alliance; Joy Kasputys, fundraising chair, and Harry Griffith, executive director, of Sustain Blaine; John Kearney, Ketchum's recreation supervisor, on behalf of the Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department; and Candice Pate, interim leader of the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance's marketing effort.

While many external contracts are at this point estimated to remain the same, some entities are seeking funding increases. The Housing Authority, for example, is seeking an increase of $3,400.

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"We're asking that the city of Sun Valley step up to the plate and support the Housing Authority's programs and services beyond just the administration of the eight community homes that are located in Sun Valley," Grotto said.

The agency is seeking funds to support the housing initiative program, designed to address housing needs countywide.

Mountain Rides' Miller is seeking an increase of 5 percent.

"We have seen increased costs ... but we've been able to stem those with more efficiencies internally and some increasing federal funding over the past few years," Miller said.

However, he said declining federal funding and increased costs, particularly fuel, necessitate the request.

He asked the council for guidance on what type of information it needs to make funding decisions.

"I can supply you data. I can pack the room with happy people saying good things about us," Miller said. "Let me know what we need to do going forward in this process."

Before the presentations, the mayor reminded everyone that the money to be allocated belongs to the public, not the city.

"This is not like a Saudi sheik approach to budget processing where ... the sheik gives you alms," he said. "This is not our money, specifically."

Rather, the money is held in trust by the mayor and council, he said.

"We try to do everything we can to make sure that the money we spend is beneficial to the taxpayers in Sun Valley," Willich said.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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