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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. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Bellevue balances bare bones budget

Funds found to hire fire chief

Express Staff Writer

Over the last few weeks the cash strapped city of Bellevue has struggled to balance its projected 2005 budget. The City Council found itself facing a deficit in light of growing demand on city services. The lack of funds and the need to hire personnel forced the council to consider proposals ranging from eliminating the library to cutting their own salaries.

In the end, Bellevue City Council members decided to balance the budget by cutting street and administrative funds at the Thursday, July 22, meeting. The council also voted to draw from savings to hire a full-time fire chief for a year.

A public hearing for the final proposed budget is slated for Thursday, Aug. 26.

The addition of the fire chief will increase the 2005 budget to $852,907. The general fund includes all city services, except sewer and water funds. The proposed budget estimates a balanced water fund of $374,000 and a balanced sewer fund of $395,204.

The original draft of the budget estimated the 2005 general revenues to be $14,234 shy of the projected expenses, which elicited serious evaluation of the city’s use of funds.

The council, with Councilwoman Tammy Schofield and Mayor John Barton absent, agreed the best option to balance the general fund required a $8,234.97 cut to the street department budget and a $6,000 cut from the administrative budget. The council decided to cut money originally allocated for chip sealing, after a recommendation from Jack Stoneback, the city administrator.

"Our streets are in good shape, we can go another year," water, street and sewer superintendent Brian Whipple assured the council.

These cuts balanced the budget at $812,404 and provide for a new full time administrative position to assist the city clerk.

The council then passed a resolution to hire Dennis Cannon as the full time Bellevue fire chief. The council approved a $40,500 salary for the chief, including benefits, which will increase the 2005 budget from $812,404 to $852,907. The chief’s salary will be paid with monies in a general savings fund.

The position is effective Oct. 1.

Cannon will head Bellevue’s volunteer fire department. He has been the volunteer fire chief since October 2003. As a volunteer, he currently works 15 to 30 hours a week, responding to calls, reporting each run to the state, updating equipment and inspecting businesses and restaurants for fire code compliance. With Bellevue’s rise in growth, the council recognized the need for its first full time fire chief.

"I am here to help the city and to do something I enjoy as well," Cannon told the council.

Cannon plans to expand his duties by performing safety and fire inspections of businesses, reviewing construction plans for buildings and subdivisions and recruiting more volunteers.

Questions did arise over funding the position in the future. The council suggested that hiring the chief might increase the chance of obtaining grants to pay for the position in years to come.

During earlier discussions over the budget, the council proposed cutting library funding. The proposal elicited strong responses from the public and the council in support of the operation.

"I am on both the street committee and the library committee," councilwoman Joanna Ehrmantraut remarked. "I am willing to sacrifice a little from the streets."

The balanced budget guarantees continued library operations.

The council also decided to appropriate incoming impact funds from Bellevue’s Pine View Subdivision to the water and savings funds. The $156,000 expected from the development will help to offset overall impacts on the city. The council voted to allocate $100,000 of the impact fees to the city’s water fund and $56,000 to general savings.


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