City adopts preliminary budget

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(File photo by MARY MALONE) Sandpoint City Council adopted a preliminary budget of $40.1 million Wednesday, which will be discussed at a workshop Aug. 2 before a final budget is adopted Aug. 16.

SANDPOINT — City Council adopted a preliminary budget Wednesday of $40.1 million, which will be discussed at an Aug. 2 workshop to determine the city's final budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

"This is not a final budget; this is the maximum amount that council could approve in the final budget," said City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton.

A public hearing and final adoption of the budget is slated for Aug. 16.

The proposed budget of $40,136,717 is an increase of $716,897 — 1.8 percent — over the current year's budget.

In accordance with financial policies recently approved by council, a general fund emergency reserve is proposed at $907, 571, and a stabilization reserve at $1,815,141. A construction reserve for the downtown revitalization project is established at $3 million through fiscal year 2019. From 2020-2022, the city will need to reserve $4 million for the project. The three-year project will be funded by the Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency over the course of 12 years. So the city needs to have the reserve available to cover costs upfront, which will then be reimbursed by SURA over time.

Stapleton presented some “budget highlights,” which outlined the increasing efficacy of city operations, communications and engagement. For example, the city is moving to a new voice over internet protocol service, will include telephone replacement in all city departments to improve communication, efficiency, portability of communications and integrate security. Service will include enhanced 911 services, end-to-end monitoring, back end maintenance and day-to-day operational changes.

The budget reflects a reduction in telephone services over the current year of $5,500 because the cost of the service is much lower than the previous services.

Also, with the city switching its internet communication to the fiber network, it will save $12,660 next year. Another reduction of $7,331 results from risk management training for employees offered through the city’s insurance provider.

Comprehensive master plans make up a portion of the budget as well. The master plans listed by Stapleton include City Beach, sidewalk and multi-modal pathways, a comprehensive subarea plan update, wastewater treatment facility, Farmin’s Landing, energy efficiency/resource management review, the city’s strategic plan, and RCT economic development. Capital projects are one of the large expenditures, proposed at $8.76 million. The projects include the downtown revitalization project, Memorial Field turf, Oak Street bike path, a self-contained breathing apparatus for the fire department, alley crossings and sidewalk connections, pathway interconnectivity on Boyer, LED street light replacements downtown, bullet proof vests, ADA improvements.

The preliminary budget also reflects a salary increase for City Council members and the mayor. If approved, council salaries would increase from $400 to $667, and the mayor’s salary would increase from $1,200 to $1,537.

“Any changes in elected officials' compensation is subject to a public hearing,” Stapleton said.

If council chooses to make the changes, the public hearing would be scheduled for Aug. 16, along with the public hearing and adoption of the final budget.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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