Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hailey budget stays flat for 5th year

Staff losses help city make ends meet

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council passed an expense budget for fiscal year 2013 that will not exceed $4.34 million, which is under last year's budget of $4.52 million. The coming fiscal year will mark the fifth in row in which city revenues and expenses have remained flat.

Mayor Fritz Haemmerle said during these lean times, the city has to keep looking for funding to keep the streets and other capital improvements in good repair.

"We need to find another $100,000 for the capital fund," Haemmerle said.

City leaders have added $25,000 to the library budget to hire an additional part time employee to keep up with increased demand for library services. The city also allotted an additional $4,000 to increase one salary in the street department to help keep up city parks.

The city grant administrator position will receive the biggest individual boost, due to the success of Tracy Anderson, who has brought in $5.2 million in grants during the last three years. Her salaried position will rise from $46,800 to $51,500.

Four outside non-profits received continued current level funding from the city. These are the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley, Mountain Rides, The Blaine County Housing Authority and the Hailey Chamber of Commerce. Councilwoman Carol Brown said these groups have proven that they can provide returns on the city's funding.

"We get clear products from them," Brown said.

Brown expressed concern that the city's snow removal budget may not be adequate if the city gets hit hard by storms this winter.

"If we get three dumps in a row we may have to forgo chip sealing next summer," Brown said.

Two departures left the city with some unexpected revenue. Community Development Director Beth Robrahn left her position in January and Building Official Dave Ferguson quit his job last month. However, a new Community Development Director is expected to take over in two weeks.

A memo from the mayor states that the City Council expects a modest improvement in the economy to bring in an additional $65,000 in order to replace funding for a police officer position, paid for since 2009 under a federal grant.

That grant expires this year.

The Police Department budget will include an allocation of 20 hours per week for a code enforcement officer. The officer will look for stray dogs, sign violations and other illegal activity.

In lieu of city staff salary increases, the council voted to offer several paid holidays this year in order to thank the staff for a job well done. Those holidays will include Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, which falls on a Monday.

"You don't get skateparks, clean sidewalks and cops that care without good morale," Councilman Pat Cooley said.

Tony Evans:

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