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For the week of July 24 - 30, 2002


Hailey City Council OKs tentative budget

Express Staff Writer

Hailey City Council members on Monday unanimously approved a more than $8 million tentative city budget for the fiscal year 2002-2003 that includes sizable increases in spending for the police, public works and fire departments.

In approving the tentative budget, the council will no longer be able to increase the total amount of expenditures for the next fiscal year—which starts in October—but will be able to adjust line-item expenditures within the budget.

Council members will be asked to approve a final version of the budget next month. The city will hold a public hearing and discussion on the matter Monday, Aug. 12, and the council will likely approve the document on Aug. 12 or Aug. 24.

Heather Dawson, city clerk and treasurer, told the council prior to their vote Monday that the budget was designed to spend virtually all of the city’s anticipated revenues without incurring a deficit. "We’re basically using all of the funds available to us," she said.

While the total city budget exceeds $8 million—up 10 percent from last year—roughly half of that sum is accounted for by water- and sewer-service revenues that are directly offset by service-related expenditures.

The estimated revenues for the city’s 2002-2003 General Fund are estimated at roughly $4 million, all of which is accounted for by expenditures for city services and payrolls.

The tentative budget includes increases in spending for city police ($896,005 total, up 31.9 percent from last year), fire ($341,092, up 32.5 percent), public works ($257,791, up 107.8 percent), streets ($835,407, up 19.4 percent), and parks ($109,185, up 132.4 percent).

Many city employees in the budget are slated for salary increases from last year, generally ranging from 4 to 9 percent.

Total General Fund revenues and expenditures are up 6 percent from last year, totaling $4, 019, 580.

The city’s budget revenues from water and sewer services were based on recommendations from City Engineer Tom Hellen to leave monthly user fees for water ($15.13 per month) and sewer ($22.95 per month) unchanged.

However, the city plans to increase the hookup fee for water service by $70 to $2,451, while leaving the hookup fee for sewer service unchanged at $2,408.

Council members on Monday debated whether the city should specifically designate in the budget where expenditures for services from charitable organizations should go.

Councilman Richard Davis asked the panel whether the budget should target specific funds for some charities or nonprofits and how those organizations should be selected.

Councilwoman Susan McBryant said she wondered if certain charities—despite their admirable goals—should get city money for a "services contract," when they do not directly provide services to the city. She noted that she believes the primary role of the city is to tax the citizens and provide "critical services."

In the end, council members decided to allocate time in the future to discuss the matter.


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