GRANDVIEW - The city of Grandview's 2009 budget, which is balanced, was the focal point of last night's study session between the city council, city administrator and city treasurer.
Included in the discussions were improvements to the Country Park pathway and east entrance to the city, the Grandridge neighborhood and the cost of operations at Yakima County District Court.
City Treasurer John Myers said the cost of improvements to the George Young Building at Country Park is budgeted at $20,000. Those improvement would bring the building up to code and further attract visitors to Country Park.
The funding is included in the capital improvements section of the budget, and the Country Park pathway is another element of that fund that was discussed.
City Administrator Scott Staples said much of the work completed on the Country Park pathway so far has received compliments from visitors to the park. Wanting to continue the enthusiasm created by those improvements, the city has set aside $20,000 for furthering the progress.
Because the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo Foundation has generated funding to assist in the city's efforts to improve the fairgrounds at Country Park, the council decided to add the city's east entrance project to the budget line.
According to Staples, it is estimated that moving the rose garden from its current location near Westside Park to the east entrance of Grandview would cost more than $22,000. With volunteer work that cost could be reduced. The city intends on matching funds generated by the efforts of the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo Foundation up to $20,000 for the move.
Mayor Norm Childress said he believes moving the rose garden to the east entrance of the city will both preserve its historic value and improve the visibility.
The discussions also included further improvements needed in the city, namely improvements needed in the Grandridge neighborhood.
That neighborhood has seen a deterioration to its infrastructure, and Staples said the city is communicating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to secure funding for the project. More than $600,000 was awarded to the city in the form of a Community Development Block Grant in 2008.
Further funding is needed due to the fact that the project is estimated to cost more than $1 million.
Myers explained elements of the water and sewer fund to the council members following that explanation. He said there are two loans the city has been paying on that expire at the end of this year. One other expires in 2009.
The water and sewer expenditures will amount to more than $7 million in 2009, but having those loans paid will help down the road.
City Clerk Anita Palacios, addressing the expenditures for local court cases, said there has been an increase in the number of cases filed with the district court. "We had approximately 500 more filings this year," she said.
Staples said the city's contract with the current prosecutor expires in 2009. But, he said the city has been saving money since using Yakima County District Court instead of running its own municipal court.
The expenditures are on the decline and the revenues to the city have improved "...making the court more self-sustaining," said Staples.
He said the city lost more than $8,700 in 2007 through the operation of the courts. The city has earned nearly $3,000 through Oct. 31 this year.
Staples said this is a positive for the city, and both the county and the judge feel positively about the court's presence in Grandview.
He concluded, saying "the good news is you have been presented with a balanced budget for 2008 and 2009. I believe we need to begin looking at 2010 at the beginning of 2009...you will have time to be more thoughtful (about that budget)." He said he believes being proactive is the best way to address budget issues in today's economy.
City council is expected to adopt the 2009 budget at its next regularly scheduled meeting.