For the week of June 16, 1999  thru June 23, 1999  

Hailey Mayor wants to eliminate city administrator post

Express Staff Writer

Hailey Mayor Brad Siemer presented his proposed balanced budget for fiscal year 1999--2000 Monday night, a blueprint that changes the way the city runs its government.

The budget’s size rose 2.4 percent from last year to just over $3 million, the mayor told city council members Monday night.

"It took some heartless cutting to balance this budget," Siemer said.

As part of the balanced budget, Siemer proposed the elimination of the city administrator position and advocated a departure from a "city administrator style of government."

The elimination of that $55,000-a-year management position, currently filled by Daryle James, is funding-related, not personality-related, Siemer reminded the council.

Siemer said he could propose the elimination because he has faith that the current department heads "don’t need any other management other than what comes from elected officials."

"It will bring the electorate closer to hired personnel," Siemer said.

In addition, the city administrator position is funded partially by the water department, a source of funding that is not justifiable, Siemer said.

A new management position, to be titled "facilities and maintenance director," will be created and funded entirely out of the administrative budget, according to Siemer’s proposal.

That $44,000-a-year director will oversee City Hall, the city shop and parks and will develop a fleet management plan for all city vehicles, Siemer said.

In an interview, James said he offered to apply for the new position.

"It came as a surprise to me when the mayor told me last Wednesday," James said. "My biggest concern is my family and their welfare."

Managers now head the following departments: wastewater, water, planning, building, fire, police, streets, parks, library and animal control.

Spending on the administrative budget increased by almost 11 percent—$34,190—because of the new management position and because of a three percent, merit-based salary increase for city employees.

Salaries for legislative personnel, however, remained unchanged, a feature of the budget that was highlighted by Siemer Monday night.

"From my own experience, the money that I receive does not even come close to the money I lose from missing work to partake in this office," Siemer said.

The mayor of Hailey receives $12,000 a year and council members receive $4,800 a year.

"As the community grows, we need to pay these [legislative] positions more," Siemer said.

Funding for the police department decreased by 9 percent in the proposed budget.

Siemer attributed that decrease to the loss of one police officer position that had been funded in part by a grant, which expired in March.

Hailey Police Chief Jack Stoneback said he would apply for the grant again in March of 2000. There are now nine police officers serving the city of Hailey.

At Monday’s preliminary hearing, council members took no action, but expressed support for the proposed budget.

The council will review the budget again on July 12. If it is approved, a public hearing will then be called on the approved budget.


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