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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 September 3 - 9, 2003


Ketchum sets $14.1 million budget for ’04

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum City Council members Tuesday, Sept. 2, unanimously approved an ordinance to adopt an approximately $14.1 million budget for the 2003-2004 fiscal year.

After conducting a brief public hearing on the draft budget, council members on Tuesday did not make any additional cuts to the spending plan, which received preliminary approval on Aug. 18.

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.

General fund expenses in the budget 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 the city’s estimated cash "fund balance" for the 2003-2004 fiscal year at approximately $500,000.

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

City Administrator Ron LeBlanc warned the council that spending might have to be curtailed if city revenues from local option taxes—which rely heavily on tourist spending—do not increase. "If it turns out the economy continues to decline, then you are going to have make some decisions mid year," he said.

The city’s current 2002-2003 budget allocated approximately $8.1 million through the city’s general fund. Mayor Ed Simon on Tuesday said the city is expected to finish the current fiscal year under budget.

The approved 2003-2004 budget includes:

·  Approximately $1.1 million in funding for city-employee healthcare programs.

·  Funds to grant city employees a 1.5 percent cost-of-living pay increase, the same percentage applied in the 2002-2003 budget. However, the increase will not be implemented until April to allow for salary increases for most city employees.

·  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.

Councilman Maurice Charlat on Tuesday reiterated comments made last month stating that he wants to reestablish a minimum $1 million cash reserve by the end of the 2005-2006 fiscal year. He said he wants the city to cut healthcare costs and wants individual department heads to use "best-management practices" to find savings in their own budgets.

"There’s no doubt that the health and fringe benefits are way too large," he said.

LeBlanc noted that the city has a bond rating of "BBB," a status that is poor enough to be "a sliver ahead of being unratable." However, he said the city’s bond rating was not adjusted during the last year.

Resident Mickey Garcia called for a hiring freeze at City Hall, something Councilwoman Christina Potters said she would have considered with support from other council members. "I find it shocking we’re in this state of affairs," Potters said.



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