By Laura Colvin
Kuna Melba News editor
It took compromise and a bit of fine-tooth-combing, but the Kuna City Council emerged from a short special meeting on Tuesday—after a marathon workshop on Monday—with a balanced budget.
The budget is considered tentative until published as required by law for two consecutive weeks and members of the community have the opportunity to comment at a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.
Highlights of the decisions made by council this week include:
• Police service remains (mostly) intact
A $30,000 budget shortfall calls for removal of one car from the police vehicle rotation, but other current levels of service provided by the Ada County Sheriff’s Office remain intact. See “Police….” story
• Employee raises
City employees will receive a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) across the board, with another 2.5 percent funneled into a merit or incentive pool to be awarded at supervisor discretion.
• New position
A seasonal position in the parks department will become a full-time position, with a salary and benefits package totaling $33,239. General consensus among the council and mayor appeared to be that the position, which includes general, building and equipment maintenance within the parks department, would not be posted, but filled by the employee currently holding the seasonal position.
• Parks capital purchase
A new lawn mower will cost $17,000, and a truck will run $2,500. City employees present at Monday’s meeting estimated repairs to maintain one of the current mowers would cost about $5,000. The truck is a surplus vehicle in the water and sewer department; funds from the city’s general fund will be used to purchase the truck from the water and sewer fund.
• Animal control services
Council members budgeted $49,642 — or $1,434 less than the contract price of $51,076 — for animal control service provided by the Idaho Humane Society. Mayor Greg Nelson, Nelson, who has continually expressed a desire to secure a reduction in contract costs from outside agencies, on Monday said he planned to inform the IHS of the decision, but on Tuesday said his call had not yet been returned.
Council member Doug Hoiland said he worried about how the news would be received.
“What happens when we need them?” Hoiland asked. “Are they going to do nothing because they’re ticked off at us? There are personalities involved here.”
• Found money
Council member Briana Buban-Vonder Haar arrived at Monday’s meeting with a list of miscellaneous items that, if cut from the budget, would total over $6,200 in savings. Buban-Vonder Haar said created the list with the help of Kuna City Treasurer John Marsh, who answered questions and provided insight on the fine-tooth-combing she gave the budget. Discussion and adjustment during the workshop resulted small cuts that ultimately totaled about $6,800 in savings, including, for example, a $2,000 reduction in funds budgeted for training and schooling for Planning and Zoning Board and Design Review Committee members, an $1,800 reduction in office supplies, and a $1,120 savings from non-renewal of memberships to certain professional organizations.
• Street lights
The council approved $3,332 for a pilot program that will outfit downtown Kuna with 11 energy efficient streetlights that offer improved illumination, visual clarity and are aesthetically pleasing, bringing the budgeted 2013 street light expenditures to $94,723. The city budgeted $89,180 for streetlight expenses in 2012.
Earlier this year, the council granted a request from Kuna Days organizers and authorized the city to make a $5,000 donation to help fund this year’s Kuna Days fireworks show. The council, which historically has not contributed to funding the event, also agreed to consider a $10,000 donation for fireworks in 2013—Kuna Days’ 50th anniversary. On Monday they settled on budgeting a $2,500 contribution.
• Property taxes
Property taxes will go up, but not by much. The council was split on the issue, but ultimately saw little choice and agreed, initially, to levy the 3 percent maximum increase over last year’s property taxes, for an additional $44,053 in revenue, as well as the new construction roll, for an additional $18,609, and the annexation roll for an additional $403. Later in the meeting, it became clear they could not fund the budget and agreed to levy about half the allowable forgone amount for an additional $55,000. Exercising all available options, according to Treasurer John Marsh, would have generated $166,000 over and above what the city would bring in if property tax rates were left unchanged over last year. Several members of the council were opposed to taking the maximum increase, however, putting total additional property tax revenue at $118,554. Although variables exist, the average homeowner will see a Kuna City tax increase of about $18 over last year.
Figures below include Kuna’s tentatively budgeted expenditures for the 2013 fiscal year. Once set, the city council can adjust downward, but cannot make any increases before the public hearing and budget adoption.
Line items that include a figure to the far right reflect changes made during the budget process that began in June, with increases in general government, planning and zoning, building inspection and parks operations attributable to council-approved raises for city employees.
KUNA CITY GENERAL FUND
BY THE NUMBERS
PROJECTED 2013 CITY REVENUES
Property taxes $1,478,510 $1,598,532
Sales tax revenue sharing $509,041 $518,096
State liquor distribution $124,536
County fine distribution $73,554
Franchise fees $ 250,213
Administrative services $5,220
Interest revenue $800
Rental income $1,200
Senior center revenue $10,440
License/permit revenue $14,630
Street light revenue $0
Planning and zoning revenue $153,051 $157,642
Park revenue $3,945
Fund carryover $200,000
Total $2,825,140 $2,958,809
Law enforcement services $1,258,350 $1,421,327
Prosecutorial services $44,666
Animal control services $51,076 $49,642
General government $424,865.92 $436,172
Bond and loan payments $0
General fund capital $0
Contract services $2,677
Donations $0 $2,500
Dues and memberships $23,046 $21,235
Deposits on account $0
Legal publication $2,500
Senior center $14,741
Street lights $94,723
Planning and zoning $253,982 $269,503
Building inspection $88,359 $104,178
Park operations $235,844 $294,943
Total projected expenditures $2,514,830.99 $2,958,809