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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Sun Valley budget prompts debate

Councilman Renick says document is heavy with ‘pork’

Express Staff Writer

The presentation of the 2004-2005 fiscal year budget in Sun Valley has prompted a series of discussions about how the city should allocate its approximately $3 million general fund.

In a three-hour discussion Thursday, June 17, Sun Valley City Council members measured a laundry list of proposed expenses, including a request for $330,000 from the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau.

At issue are city expenditures for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1, 2004, and ends on Sept. 30, 2005.

Sun Valley City Administrator Jan Wellman issued a balanced draft budget last Thursday that calls for the city to spend approximately $3,156,000 through its general fund.

"It’s balanced, but just barely," Wellman said.

The current 2003-2004 fiscal year budget is slated to allocate approximately $3,011,000 through the city’s general fund.

The 2004-2005 proposed budget includes a 3 percent cost-of-living pay increase for city employees.

The proposed budget also calls for allocating $20,000 to the Peak Bus commuter service and $325,000 to fund the Ketchum Area Rapid Transit bus network.

The budget also includes a plan to borrow a sum between $1.2 million and $1.7 million to rebuild and resurface Fairway Road, northeast of City Hall. The borrowing plan was endorsed in concept by the council in a 4-0 vote Thursday.

Councilman Lud Renick said he would like to keep borrowing to a minimum by cutting unnecessary expenditures from the budget.

He objected specifically to one proposal from the Police Department that requested funding for a drug-sniffing dog program. The funding was ultimately omitted from the draft budget.

"I think we’ve got a lot of pork in this budget," Renick said.

Council members indicated they might be willing to cut some proposed expenditures, including one set reserved for remodeling the City Council meeting room.

Council members will continue to review the draft budget at their next meeting July 15.

However, Wellman will not be available to usher the budget through the approval process this summer. In a move that surprised many outside of City Hall, Wellman last Friday agreed with Mayor Jon Thorson to step down from his post, apparently because of differences in how the two men view the city administrator’s role.


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