For the week of July 8 thru July 14, 1998  

Hailey Council approves budget move forward

Express Staff Writer

Hailey Mayor Brad Siemer characterized the general fund budget for the 1998-1999 year as flat, with the total revenue and total expense budgets each increased by almost 2 percent.

The city council approved the balanced budget, which will be presented in a public hearing.

A topic of discussion was the allotted 3 percent salary increase for each government employee. Siemer said he reviewed the regional Consumer Price Index, which sits at around 2 percent, and favored a 3 percent raise to meet the inflation in the cost of living.

Council member Susan McBryant questioned giving a raise to every employee regardless of job performance.

Siemer said his objective is to fund the positions and not the people of the city government.

"I hear very much what you’re saying," he said. "We’re building positions and offering competitive salaries."

Siemer said he relies on the department heads to insure employees are meeting job performance standards.

It’s an interesting challenge bringing private sector employment philosophies and methods into the public sector, he said in response to McBryant’s comment that employees also don’t have the chance to work toward a higher raise.

The 3 percent raise is funded from the elimination of $1,500 bonuses budgeted for each department head, and previously granted at the discretion of the mayor.

Siemer also eliminated merit pay, which is a lump sum raise given by department heads to employees. The budget does allow for a one-time bonus of $350 for every employee.

Siemer said there were no fund increases for the Hailey Fire Department, and he was looking to consolidation in the future.

The budget plans for two new employees, a receptionist at city hall and a new officer for the police department. Siemer said a receptionist would improve city hall’s ability to respond to the public and provide a better work atmosphere for the busy employees.

"That would free Heather up to move into more administrative work, and allow her to utilize her talents," he said of city clerk Heather Dawson.

The new police officer position is funded entirely by a federal Byrne Memorial Grant.

City attorney Susan Baker will work as a city employee, and not as an independent contractor.

"I think its very important for staff and the public to have a city attorney in city hall with regular office hours," said Siemer.

The council will also decide where to allot $50,000 in revenue from the sale of land to the Silver Creek Alternative School. The money will be re-dedicated to the Hop Porter Park project, or to a park in Woodside, which is in the works.

Siemer said his goal with this year’s budget was to make it readily understandable.


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