Friday, August 13, 2004

Ketchum budget enters home stretch

Spending plan could be approved Monday

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum City Council members could approve the city?s 2004-2005 budget as early as Monday, Aug. 16, when they will hold a public hearing on Mayor Ed Simon?s proposed $15.4 million spending plan.

The gross sum of the city?s pro-posed appropriations in the coming fiscal year includes approximately $9.65 million directly related to cov-ering the costs of city operations, including the water and wastewater departments.

At the core of the spending plan is the city?s General Fund, which covers all of the city?s costs of general op-erations, including all city-government departments except water and sewer.

The city?s General Fund budget is balanced, with projected revenues of $7,915,000 equaling proposed ex-penses in the same amount.

After a series of budget cuts and revenue adjustments were made this summer, Simon and City Adminis-trator Ron LeBlanc eliminated a plan to use some of the city?s reserve funds to offset expenses in the Gen-eral Fund.

Proposed General Fund expenses are a fraction of a percentage point higher than those in the current 2003-2004 budget, which will expire on Sept. 30. The city allocated approxi-mately $7,868,000 in the 2003-2004 General Fund budget but expects to spend only $7,672,000 of that sum.

Overall, real income for the city is expected to go up, but the bottom line of revenues will remain roughly the same, in part because the city is choosing not to draw any funds from its reserves, or fund balance. The fund balance is set to climb to approxi-mately $1.25 million in the 2004-2005 fiscal year.

The city is employing a standard-allowance 3 percent increase in prop-erty taxes and expects its real reve-nues from local-option taxes to climb by 4 percent, to approximately $2 million.

The city has established a sales-tax fund that optimistically projects it will receive $2.3 million in LOT revenues. The fund essentially allows any sales-tax revenues in excess of $1.93 million?up to the $2.3 million sum?to be transferred to a separate capital-improvements fund, instead of going to property-tax relief.

This year, department heads were asked to bring forth individual budg-ets that did not exceed those of the current year.

In the end, several proposed spending programs were cut, but some departments and outside agen-cies were afforded budget increases.

Highlights of the spending plan include:

$60,000 for scheduled pay raises for all city employees, except depart-ment heads.

Approximately, $481,000 for Ketchum Area Rapid Transit, a 3.3 percent increase from the current year.

$390,000 for the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bu-reau, up from $370,000 this year.

Approximately $42,000 for the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority. The city also plans to allocate 10 percent of its community housing in-lieu fees to the Housing Authority, bringing the total allocation to ap-proximately $67,000.

The Aug. 16 public hearing will commence at 5:30 p.m. in Ketchum City Hall.

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