Supervisors to decide on budget strategy |

Supervisors to decide on budget strategy

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Carson City Supervisors are deciding how to proceed with the proposed $117.6 million operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1.

Requested are two more sheriff’s deputies to fight drug-related crimes and a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office to take the cases through court. The group Partnership Carson City, which focuses on halting the use of methamphetamine in the community, would receive $100,000.

The idea is “to look at expenses to see if there’s a better way to do business,” said City Manager Linda Ritter. “Employees and department heads understand there are challenges ahead.”

Various versions of the budget provide for a raise in utility franchise fees and others do not. These fees are added to monthly utility bills issued throughout the city and would bring in more than $1 million a year – if the maximum raises of 1 percent are allowed on natural gas and electricity franchises. Franchise fees now are 3.5 percent for natural gas and 2.5 percent for electricity.

Some versions call for the new anti-drug expenses. Surveys conducted by the city have indicated that addressing methamphetamine abuse is a top priority among residents, she said.

There are four choices being given to the supervisors, and each would move forward with varying degrees of deficit.

No franchise fee increase and adding the anti-drug expenses would result in a deficit of more than $1.6 million. No fee and no drug-fighting additions would leave a gap of more than $1.25 million.

Ritter is recommending the budget version presented earlier this month with a deficit of about $596,000 – with franchise fee increases and anti-drug expenses. It’s an amount that can be made up relatively easily by more cuts during the year while not having great impact on providing services to residents, she said.

While it might be possible to avoid the franchise and add to the staff, it’s not a good idea to use reserves because financial institutions recommend against it and “we might need that money in an emergency,” Ritter said.

A franchise fee increase with no added expenses would leave the city just $232,000 in the hole.

This year’s budget is roughly $116 million and the year ends June 30. Expenditures are expected to rise 1.5 percent this coming year.

“We’ve made some significant progress in bringing down expenses,” Ritter said. “And we expect to do more.”

Thirteen positions have gone unfilled citywide to help offset the deficit. Eight have been eliminated. The others might be filled later. City departments cut expenses earlier this year by 5 percent as revenues started softening up, Ritter said.

Possible increases in other city charges and fees and increased use of low-risk inmate labor for parks and recreation maintenance instead of hiring the usual number of seasonal employees also are ways for cutting costs.

For example, some maintenance might occur a little slower than in past, such as bathroom repairs at parks, said Roger Moellendorf, parks director.

“We’re not going to know for sure until summer, when use peaks, but we don’t expect problems resulting from the reductions to be noticeable,” he said.

Two new members added to the nine-member Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team would cost $172,119. An extra criminal prosecutor would bring the total to eight – including Neil Rombardo, district attorney. Cost would be $91,800. Benefits are included in the cost.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.

If you go

WHAT: Budget hearing, Carson City Supervisors

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Note: Other issues will be heard during the supervisors’ regular morning session that begins at 8:30

WHERE: Sierra Room, Community Center, 851 E. William St.

CALL: 887-2100

What’s next

Supervisors will meet again at noon on Monday for a final vote.

Do your part

The budget has been on city’s Web site for about two weeks. To review it, visit Direct comments to City Manager Linda Ritter and the supervisors.


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