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Grandview wraps up 2010 budget studies

GRANDVIEW - Before the Grandview City Council approved the city's 2010 preliminary budget last night (Monday), Mayor Norm Childress shared, "This budget is not cast in stone, and if there is something we feel isn't going right, we have opportunities to amend it if we choose."

The council heard from City Administrator Scott Staples regarding four budget areas included in the proposed 2010 budget.

He said there is a $1,000 increase in legislative services, which is an increase in dues to the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments.

That increase is for the handling and administrative support directly related to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding being used for the "Downtown Alive" project, he told the council.

Staples also noted his marriage last March resulted in an increase in medical and life insurance expenditures in the general management funds. The amount budgeted for 2009 was $5,400 and is projected to be $15,490 for 2010.

There is also a slight increase, he said, in the legal services portion of the budget, with expenditures covering the duties of city hall staff, who have taken on some of the work load.

Staples told council the economic development expenditures are "essentially status quo." He said he doesn't project the "Downtown Alive" project to require any more of his time than in years past. He projects 10 percent of his time will be focused on economic development.

Following the discussion of the city manager's time spent on economic development, Grandview Police Chief Dave Charvet spoke to the council regarding a matter he shared with them at an earlier budget session.

He explained to council information they asked for regarding the computer systems in his department.

In the proposed budget was funding for computer systems upgrades. That funding amounted to $20,000, of which half would cover the cost of centralizing the servers and replacing older computers used by the police department.

That line item is no longer in the 2010 budget, but Childress felt it was important to hear from the police regarding the importance of funding for computers.

Charvet told the city council members his department typically spends approximately $13,000 annually on computers and technical support for the systems. With the improvements, he said, the servers would have more longevity and computers currently on the floor would no longer be there.

He obtained estimates from a local computer technical assistance firm and was told the cost of new, updated wiring systems and providing a centralized rack for the new servers would be $10,000.

After further discussion, the city council members felt the expense was not something they could currently afford to add to the budget.

Discussion, spearheaded by Councilman Jessie Palacios, also took place regarding small upgrades to neighborhoods in Grandview.

"I think we should spend at least a token amount, like about $15,000," he told his fellow council members.

Palacios said he feels it is important to improve sidewalks and inquired with Public Works Director Cus Arteaga regarding a couple of areas, such as East Fourth Street.

The improvements, he said, might be small, but "...they could make a positive impact."

The council agreed, but felt it would be best to wait on deciding to set aside funding for such projects until the books on 2009 have been closed.

"That way we have a handle on the funding available," said Childress, adding the council can also look at cutting areas of the budget, as well.

"If I believed we were going to continue to ignore some needs in our neighborhoods, I would not vote for this budget," said Palacios, adding he understands there will be opportunities to make changes to the 2010 budget that will help the neighborhoods.

The budget was later approved by a unanimous vote of the council members present. Councilwoman Jan McDonald was the only member absent Monday.

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