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Grandview Council continues to hash out 2005 budget

GRANDVIEW - Grandview City Council is going to have some tough decisions to make as it gets ready to hash out the 2005 budget. Monday night, Council members listened and asked questions about the proposed current expense fund budget, which includes the municipal court, planning and economic development budgets.

Monday marked the Council's second budget session. During the budget sessions Council members have been listening to department heads and other city employees explain the budgets being proposed for 2005. As the budget sessions continue through November, Council will begin to decide how it will try to make up the $190,000 budget shortfall the city is facing next year.

Looking at the current expense fund, the areas where the proposed budgets for 2005 are seeing the most significant increases include municipal court and planning.

The proposed budget for the municipal court for 2005 is set to see a more than 17 percent increase, going from $132,010 budgeted in 2004 to $154,790 in 2005. That's a difference of more than $22,000.

Grandview City Administrator Jim Sewell noted that the most significant changes in the 2005 budget for the municipal court fall under professional services. City Clerk Anita Palacios said professional services include the cost of everything from a public defender to an interpreter. She added that in 2005 the City will be working to find a new interpreting service, which will likely cost more.

Palacios added that about $5,000 was added to the municipal court budget in 2005 to cover the cost of a process server. She noted that currently when the city needs to serve papers the Grandview Police Department is called in to do it, which can be a conflict of interest.

Sewell noted that over the last few years there has been a strong push as far as municipal courts are concerned to forge a separation between the court and the local police department.

"Municipal courts are another one of those unfunded mandates," Sewell said. "The rules are set and you have to play by their rules."

Mayor Mike Bren asked Sewell if the cost of a process server was something that could come out of the funds that will be available to the city thanks to Proposition #1, which was passed by voters last week. Sewell noted that it would fall under the law and justice category.

Another council member asked City Treasurer John Myers how much revenue the municipal court has been generating. Myers noted that over the years the revenue being collected through the municipal court has continued to gradually increase with more than $80,000 in fines and forfeitures being expected in 2005.

The other area that saw the most significant increase in the proposed budget for 2005 is planning. The planning budget was set at $20,850 in 2004, but is scheduled to see an increase to $29,740 in 2005, which is an increase of more than 42 percent.

Sewell noted that the increase in the planning budget is due to the volume of planning activity the city has seen over the course of the past year or so. He noted that the city has seen a lot more annexation and subdivision activity recently.

According to Sewell, year-to-date revenue generated through the planning department in 2004 is just under $20,000. He noted that the objective is to have the city's planning activities pay for themselves, adding that city officials are currently looking at adjusting fees for 2005.

"That should hopefully take care of that," Sewell said.

Sewell said the city currently contracts out for planning services, utilizing the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments. He noted that if the city continues to grow there could come a time in the future when it will be more budget-savvy to hire a city planner. He added that is something that could still be five years away.

Sewell told Council that at this point in time the city isn't seeing any evidence of development slowing down.

There were areas of the current expense fund budget that are proposed to see decreases in their 2005 budgets, including the areas of city council and the city treasurer.

The city council portion of the budget is looking at a 2.84 percent decrease from 2004. In 2004 the city council budget was set at $28,560, a number that is proposed to decrease to $27,750 in 2005. Sewell noted that city council is an area of the budget that typically remains about the same from year to year.

The decreases in the city council budget come under the categories of communications, travel and advertising.

When it comes to the city treasurer, in 2004 the budget was set at $60,880. In 2005 that number is proposed to decrease by just under 3 percent to $59,090.

Myers explained the decrease comes from a slight change in the wages and benefits coming out of the budget area, as well as the elimination of professional services. In 2004, $1,700 was budgeted for professional services and to date none of the funds have been used.

Grandview City Council will take another look at the city's budget Monday, Nov. 15, during the study session preceding their regular city council meeting. The study session will begin at 5:30 p.m.

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