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City Finance Director Amy Fealko presented the Salmon City Council with a power point tutorial of an Idaho Association of Cities Conference she recently attended in Boise which included a three hour seminar on the basics of municipal budgeting.

She encapsulated the three hour, comprehensive budget forum into the points she felt were most relevant and applicable to this city’s challenges. The item she chose as one of the most important was building reserves in times of economic growth to protect essential services during tough economic times. Fealko said, “If you are not saving, your budget is not balanced.”

The city is just about to enter the 2016-17 budgeting process. The deadline for the budget hearing is September 7 therefore the process must be completed in enough time for there to be a legal notice published in the newspaper twice, at least seven days apart, prior to that hearing date.

As far as advice on developing an annual budget she said that department requests should include a brief description of the goals each department head feels can be obtained with the budget being requested. She also said it is important to set the tentative budget ceiling and levy a bit high to give more leeway for changes during the public hearing process during which no increases can be made.

Fealko advised the council to take time during the budget process to review the city’s Capital Budgeting in terms of future needs and the expected life span of present assets such as equipment and vehicles. The repeated refrain during her presentation was: “Don’t spend it all. Build up reserves.”

The council then went on to discuss the upcoming budget process and a change proposed by Council President Jim Baker. His strategic base budgeting plan is related to how department heads could calculate their budgets in a way that would leave a percentage of each budget available for the city to put into a general pool for funding priority projects.

It was decided that budget requests from city department heads should be turned into Finance Director Fealko as soon as possible and then the council will discuss whether or not to schedule a pre-budget work session.

Students from the Pioneer Elementary School’s Lighthouse Team have invited the City Council to their Leadership Day on May 18 at 2PM in the Multi-purpose Room. Councilman and teacher Russ Chinske highly recommended the event saying it will be an Open House and tour conducted by the student council.

During the evening’s opportunity for public comments Robert Dunlop had high praise for a recent presentation to the council from the Lemhi Education Project. He said he was very happy to hear such a positive report. He did recommend however, that the method of city and county funding should be revisited to avoid city taxpayers having to contribute twice. Dunlop said that’s what happens when the city and the county both donate to the same fund. He suggested finding other avenues of funding.

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