Budget tweaked again
In lean year, Ketchum spending cuts
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
As Ketchum City Council members last week
continued to make cuts to the proposed 2004-2005 fiscal-year budget, the police
chief and fire chief said they cannot sustain any additional reductions to
funding for their departments.
After a special budget hearing Thursday
July 22, City Administrator Ron LeBlanc said the city has succeeded in cutting
$60,000 sought to pay for scheduled salary increases for all city employees.
The city administrator said additional
cuts being made will likely ensure the city has a surplus calculated into the
2004-2005 budget, which goes into effect on Oct. 1.
"We’re calculating what the bottom line is
right now," LeBlanc said Tuesday. "We’re estimating that we’ll have a balanced
budget with a slight surplus."
Mayor Ed Simon on June 28 presented a
nearly $9.7 million budget for the 2004-2005 fiscal year. However, in doing so,
he conceded that numerous cuts would have to be made to provide so-called salary
"step increases" for city employees, which had been eliminated to balance the
city’s proposed revenues and expenses.
Police Chief Cory Lyman, in proposing a
$1.3 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, said last Thursday that he
will be challenged to maintain the high level of service demanded of his
department. The budget request represents an approximately 5.5 percent cut from
the approved police budget for the current 2003-2004 fiscal year.
"We’ll feel it," Lyman said.
The police chief noted that he will be
forced to cut his staff of community service officers, who assist in enforcing
city codes and parking regulations.
"We’re not laying anybody off or anything
like that," he said. "We’re accomplishing it through attrition."
Fire Chief Greg Schwab asked council
members to approve a $714,000 funding request for his department. The proposal
represents an approximately 12 percent increase over the Fire Department budget
for the current 2003-2004 fiscal year.
Pursuant to pleas from Schwab and Simon,
council members decided to restore so-called "performance awards" for the city’s
volunteer firefighters. The awards—which would amount to approximately
$2,000—had been cut from the draft budget.
"We need to invest in our people," Schwab
In reviewing the city’s proposed funding
for the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority, council members agreed to support a
plan put forth by Simon to cut public funding for the organization by $25,000.
However, the sum will be replaced with monies collected as
in-lieu-of-affordable-housing fees collected from developers.
In the end, city officials said, the
Housing Authority will receive $67,500 from the city, a slight increase over
funding in the current fiscal year.
Michael David, executive director of the
Housing Authority, said he expects the organization will be "self-sustaining" by
the 2006-2007 fiscal year.
Budget hearings will continue Monday, Aug.
9. A public hearing on the budget will be held at City Hall Monday, Aug. 16.