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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of August 20 - 26, 2003


Ketchum Council drafts $14.1 million budget

Public hearing on spending plan
set for Sept. 2

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum City Council members Monday, Aug. 18, unanimously approved a resolution to adopt an approximately $14.1 million budget for the 2003-2004 fiscal year.

The approved budget includes $7,868,458 in expenditures through the city’s general fund, $3,473,855 in spending through the city’s water and wastewater funds, and an additional $2,755,500 allocated through other funds.

The council will conduct a public hearing on the approved budget on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at noon in Ketchum City Hall. The panel at that meeting will be expected to establish the final budget. In the process, it will be permitted to decrease expenditures, but cannot add to the city’s proposed expenses.

Council members on Monday did not make any cuts to the city’s proposed general fund expenses, which exceed revenues by approximately $527,000. To balance the general fund, city officials have agreed to subtract the balance from the city’s cash reserves, leaving its estimated cash "fund balance" for the 2003-2004 fiscal year at just over $495,000.

The city’s new fiscal year will begin Oct. 1 and end on Sept. 30, 2004.

The city’s current 2002-2003 budget allocated approximately $8.1 million through the city’s general fund. The city is expected to spend approximately $395,000 from its cash fund balance this fiscal year.

The city started the current fiscal year with approximately $1.4 million in cash reserves, a figure that could be cut by nearly two-thirds by the end of the 2003-2004 fiscal year.

City Administrator Ron LeBlanc has repeatedly warned the council that the city needs to ensure in future years that its annual expenses do not exceed revenues.

Councilman Maurice Charlat last week said he wants to re-establish a minimum $1 million cash reserve by the end of the 2005-2006 fiscal year. He said he wants the city to explore cutting healthcare costs, raising fees and accumulating savings garnered by individual department heads in their own budgets.

LeBlanc on Tuesday said he is generally supportive of the council’s plan to double its reserves by 2006. "I think the approach the council is taking to improve the budget over the next two years is appropriate," LeBlanc said. "I’m always looking for ways to improve the budget, and I think we can do better."

The tentatively approved 2003-2004 budget includes:

·  A substantial increase in the Parks and Recreation Department budget, from approximately $399,000 this year to $466,000.

·  Adequate funds to grant city employees a 1.5 percent cost-of-living pay increase, the same percentage applied in the 2002-2003 budget.

·  Increases in the salary budgets for several city departments, in part to maintain several department head salary hikes issued during the current budget year.

·  A large increase in the Ketchum Communications Center budget—from approximately $446,000 this year to $625,000 next year. The increase in large part can be attributed to an increase in the salary budget to support new staff.

·  Approximately $400,000 for capital improvement projects. If the city saves money or receives adequate local-option-tax revenues, it will consider resurfacing First Avenue, a project that had been planned for completion this year.

·  Funding for numerous service contracts, including $30,000 for the Peak Bus, $65,500 for the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority, $369,700 for the Ketchum-Sun Valley Chamber & Visitors Bureau, $38,500 for Wood River Rideshare and nearly $466,000 for the KART bus system.

The council on Aug. 27 is scheduled to discuss a salary survey commissioned by the city, in order to assess whether city employee salaries are in line with other Western resort cities.



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