City budget to be refined in workshop

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

An upcoming city of Sandpoint workshop will pave the way for the adoption of the next fiscal year’s budget.

Set for the regular Sandpoint City Council Meeting at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 1, the workshop should identify final budget tweaks prior to its adoption, which should take place on Aug,. 15. The theme for the budget presentation is “a framework for the future.”

“This is an exciting time to be in Sandpoint, and I am pleased to say that the FY 2019 budget is in line with the strategic plan and priorities as adopted by the Sandpoint City Council,” wrote Sandpoint City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton in a letter to council members. “This budget and the associated initiatives will provide our citizens, businesses and others with programs and services in a responsible and efficient manner. It also reflects our continued efforts to improve transparency and citizen engagement.”

The budget is structured in line with the strategic plan recently adopted by council members, which identified five key goals: responsive government, resilient economy, sustainable environment, vibrant culture and livable community.

The workshop will cover the various strategic priorities city officials wish to focus on in the coming year. Sixteen specific projects are identified in the strategic plan as priorities for the near future, including refining city codes, expanding citizen engagement, embracing performance management and continuous improvement, refreshing commissions and advisory group charters, optimizing storm water management, optimizing fire protection, optimizing police services, strengthening financial forecasting, diversifying housing mix, considering the acquisition of the University of Idaho Boyer property, completing the renovation of Memorial Field and sports complexes, updating the city’s comprehensive plan, completing a watershed management master plan and developing master plans for downtown revitalization, the arts and infrastructure.

Also covered in the workshop presentation is an overview of the various funds at the city’s disposal. The city maintains several distinct funds, and many are restricted in how they can be utilized. The local option tax, for example, was passed by voters to fund specific projects — namely the restoration of Memorial Field and other park projects — so by law, the revenues can only be used toward those efforts. Likewise, enterprise funds concern revenues and expenses the city manages in operating various services. For instance, the water fund is dedicated to the city’s water service for local homes and businesses.

According to Stapleton, next year’s budget has been a long time in the making, and city staff have worked hard to prepare it for council consideration.

“I want to extend my appreciation and thanks to our leadership team members for their creativity and prudent administration and to all of our city employees who continue to provide excellent service and actively contribute to the development of a refined vision for how we better integrate our services, provide better outcomes for our citizens and make access to their city government and all of its programs and services easier and more accessible,” Stapleton wrote to council members.

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