$2.2 million, oh how do we spend it.

Carson City has about $2.2 million dollars extra to spend this year.

While much of that money is accounted for in city requests, city supervisors will have to decide Thursday whether or not to set aside $250,000 to spend as they wish.

City Finance Director David Heath said this is new ground for supervisors. Its the first year supervisors have dipped into the city's ending balance before the budget process begins.

"It's up to their discretion on how they spend that money," Heath said.

If Mayor Ray Masayko has his way, about $80,000 of that pot will head to a program designed to help curb youth violence.

Supervisors may opt to spend the money on one-shot items that didn't get funded in during last year's budget process or send the money back into the city's capital improvement program.

Supervisor Jon Plank said he supports reexamining last year's unfunded items before looking at new items.

"We need to look at what we weren't able to fund during the budget session and see if we want to revisit those issues," Plank said. "Obviously there was a need for those last year. Those needs should be first in mind to be considered before we move on to new issues."

The $2.2 million funds the city's capital improvement program. CIP funds help pay for things like new computers and vehicle replacement. But $200,000 is generally set aside for what is commonly called "Wheel of Fortune night" when items from within city departments and city non-profit agencies compete for one-shot funding. During the 1999 budget process, about $422,000 of items were left unfunded.

Supervisors will also decide on approval of $832,000 in capital improvement requests at Thursday's meeting. Heath said CIP funds were cut by almost $400,000 because of employee contract negotiations which increased salaries above the annual 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment.

The city's ending fund balance, money left over after obligations are paid for, totaled about $6.9 million this year, about the same as last year, Heath said. Heath asked supervisors to put $3.4 million of that money, which has been collected over several years, into a stabilization fund. The money creates a secondary contingency fund and wouldn't be touched unless economic times create an emergency situation.

"It's contingency money viewed very favorably by those who rate our debt," Heath said. "It's one of the healthiest financial measures we can take."

The city also changed its budget process recently. City departments prepare a two-year budget for review. The budget is reviewed by supervisors the following year only if the department has extra requests. The city will go through its budget process this year in March rather than May.


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