Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sun Valley pencils in budget numbers

2013 spending plan may include layoffs

Express Staff Writer

Trepidation about the local, national and world economy is causing the city of Sun Valley to proceed with caution while planning its fiscal 2013 budget.

Mayor Dewayne Briscoe presented a draft budget to the City Council during a special meeting Monday.

"I assure you that many changes have been implemented to ensure city government provides the highest level of service, there is accountability and that we are efficient and effective in the use of our revenues," Briscoe said.

The total planned expenditures for all funds sits at $5,328,000. The 2013 budget is $238,000 less than the 2012 budget—unless unassigned funds of $404,000 are used for fixed assets and capital improvements. When fixed assets and capital improvements are included, the fiscal 2013 budget is $165,986 more than the current year total of $5,162,014.

The proposed budget also maintains a 16-week emergency reserve of $1,534,399.

The mayor focused attention on three parts of the budget: a staffing plan, how street maintenance is funded and paying for fixed assets.

"Certainly, the slow economy plays heavily into funding what we do," said Virginia Egger, interim executive assistant to the mayor. "So, the real look was not to stop doing anything, but, rather, could we do it at the same level in a different way and save the city money. And I think that's possible."

One staff-related goal is succession planning and cross training, Egger said. Another is to use staff to their fullest potential. Some positions may fall victim to city belt-tightening.

The mayor is recommending retaining the city's building official through fiscal 2013, but then merging that department with the community development department and a downsizing of that department.

"There was a long hard look at whether we need two planning positions," Egger said.

The draft budget recommends one full-time planner and one part-time position, which would be an associate planner rather than another senior planner.


The budget also includes the reduction of one patrol officer in the police department.

"I do think the city could still offer the same high level of service with one less position," Egger said.

The city is considering training paid, on-call firefighters to conduct traffic management at large events in Sun Valley instead of police officers. That would reduce police overtime while boosting the hours of part-time firefighters.

City officials are taking another look at a general obligation bond for next May.

"A bond issue would allow the city, in all of our view, to really get the streets over three years right back up to the kind of standard that you would want, and to stop the greatest fear of water getting into those cracks and undermining the base," Egger said.

Voters narrowly rejected a bond in November. The new one under consideration would be $12.6 million, as opposed to $14 million because of the potential of using money from unassigned fund balances for certain expenses.

Besides road reconstruction, the bond would provide 50 percent cost-sharing of a new aerial tower truck, or $450,000, and replace an engine truck, for $475,000.

A chip and seal project could be done to help repair roads if the council decides against another bond attempt or voters reject it.

At this stage in the budget-planning process, external contracts are funded at last year's levels.

Among those are Sun Valley Marketing Alliance at $350,000, Mountain Rides at $275,000, Sustain Blaine at $10,000, Fly Sun Valley Alliance at $20,000, Blaine County Housing Authority at $5,000, Ketchum Parks and Recreation at $20,000 and a new category, economic development-special event funding, at $25,000.

The council is scheduled to take action on the tentative budget on June 19. Once the council approves the tentative budget, the city will hold a public hearing on Aug. 7.

Rebecca Meany:

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