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The most crucial job of the city’s Finance Director is making sure the city does not go over its budget. At the January 20 meeting of the Salmon City Council Finance Director Amy Fealko told the council the city is going over its budget.

The case in point was $9,000 in Island Park Bridge engineering bills the council had approved earlier in the meeting. Fealko pointed out that $2,500 was officially approved for the budget however; there has been no official action to approve the override passed that evening. She said the engineering expense can be billed one of two ways. It can be taken from the $109,000 which has been approved as a cash match for when bridge construction bids are received or, the council can go into the city’s $227,020 Contingency Fund to pay for the engineering and testing. The choice is the council’s to make but one way or the other Fealko asked for an official decision on which direction she should take and urged the council to be aware they are spending more than what has been budgeted. She wanted the official record to reflect why bills that were not budgeted were paid.

Fealko said that when the 2016 budget was approved last year it was assumed the bridge would be built by now so nothing was budgeted for what has turned out to be ongoing engineering fees.

Councilman Jim Bockelman said there is always the possibility that if the engineering and construction bids are too high the city may not build the bridge this year. Fealko agreed. She said, “This is a huge investment and so every decision is very crucial to the potential $500,000 plus dollars that will be going out.” She noted that the original cost estimate given the city was around $200,000. In an effort to put that evening’s over budget expenditure in perspective she said if another department spent $10,000 that was not budgeted it would be a huge issue. She said that perhaps because the bridge project is so large, $10,000 is not considered a lot of money. Fealko said her biggest concern is that money is being spent that has not been budgeted.

The councilmen commended Fealko for the job she’s doing and for carefully keeping track of everything financial. They took her advice of making things official and a motion was made and unanimously passed to approve $20,000 for additional engineering and testing. The money will be taken from the $227,020 Contingency Fund which will leave a balance of $207,020.05.

When the construction bids are in hand the council will have actual figures on which to base future decisions and directions.

As to the date for inviting bids on the project Community Development Project Coordinator Mary Cerise told the council the initial engineering plans have been submitted to the city and further revisions are needed. She said therefore, no completion date has been set as answers to questions are being sought and meetings are being held.

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