Carson City’s |

Carson City’s

emergency fund exhausted

Carson City’s emergency fund, which pays for unexpected costs during the fiscal year, has been all but spent in the first four months, officials said Friday.

Pay raises and senior medical costs have taken a substantial bite out of the contingency fund, which together with other costs have depleted it from $500,000 to a mere $2,235.

“We have to really hold the line,” said City Manager Linda Ritter. “We have to be more vigilant in spending.”

Ritter has asked city departments to stay within their appropriated budgets for the remainder of the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2004. The city is allowed by the state to set aside 3 percent of its total budget each year as a “rainy day” fund to pay for unexpected expenditures. This year, the city put aside only $500,000, half of that amount.

The city has an additional $3 million in a Revenue Stabilization Fund to cover costs if tax revenue comes in under what was expected by the state, Ritter said.

Acting director of finance Tom Minton said it is not unusual for the city to run short on its contingency funds after a legislative session. The budget was decided before the Legislature ended its session.

The city could have reopened the budget to pay for costs resulting from decisions made in the Legislature, but elected not to do that this year, Minton said.

This year, supervisors granted a raise authorized by the Legislature for the city’s elected officials that cost the city $130,000 from the contingency fund.

The city also paid $6,000 for an Ethics Commission assessment cost required by passage of a Legislative bill that requires counties with more than 10,000 residents to pay a portion of the commission’s operating budget.

Negotiations with the Sheriff’s Department Protective Association contract resulted in $140,000 to pay for raises, taking another chunk of emergency funding.

Carson also paid $145,000 from the fund to cover overrun costs to care for indigent seniors at convalescent homes. By state law, Carson is required to cover the medical costs of seniors and inmates who can’t afford to pay.

The city’s payment covers the costs not paid for by Medicare, Minton said. The annual 10-cent property tax assessment did not fully cover last year’s costs, he said.

Other payments were made to cover the city’s obligation to fund a domestic violence position for the district attorney’s office and a sheriff’s grant.

City accounts are currently being audited and officials may know by December if extra funds will be found to repay the contingency fund.

“We don’t know at this point,” Minton said about whether extra money will be located.

The depleted emergency funds won’t effect paying for disaster costs if the city should get a severe snow storm or flooding this year, however, said Transportation Manager John Flansberg.

Street funding is paid for through state gas tax, sales tax and a county option gas tax. Emergency money to pay for snow plows or flooding needs are taken from street budgets or federal emergency funds, he said.

Balance as of July 1: $500,000

Sheriff’s Protective Assoc. contract costs: $140,000

Elected Officials salary increase: $130,000

Indigent medical costs: $145,000

Ethics Commission assessment: $6,000

Public defender costs: $53,765

District Attorney Domestic Violence Grant: $19,000

Sheriff Grant: $4,000

Balance: $2,235