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Topics at the July 20 meeting of the Salmon City Council included a public hearing on the city’s proposed $4,231,144 Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget about which several people expressed disagreement.

City Finance Director Amy Fealko began the public hearing by explaining that $1,082,300 of the total amount is coming from tax revenue which represents a .75 percent increase. She said the significant increase over last year is because of the $263,000 coming out of the General Fund Contingency and going to the Streets and Alleys Fund. The overall increase is $30,000 above last year’s budget.

The object of several speakers’ disapproval was a $10,000 cut in funding for the Sacajawea Center and a $5,000 cut in funding for the Salmon Outdoor School (SOS).

In a written response Joe and Denyce Bigley, operators of the school, said the decrease represents a cut of 33 percent which led them to believe the council doesn’t really understand all the school does for and brings to the community in terms of educational opportunities for the 3600 people who visited the school last year. They asked the council to consider instead a 20 per cent cut.

Five other people including two local school teachers offered written and verbal support for the Outdoor School and what it offers not only to children but makes available to everyone in the community.

Based on his study of the proposed budget Robert Dunlop, a frequent public comment speaker, objected to the less than one percent tax increase as well as retirement benefits for council members. He said even if the increase is minimal it is significant for those also hit with an appraisal increase. As to benefits for former council members, he said when someone leaves the board they should be done. He also cautioned about worthy causes that are not always deemed worthy by those who have to pay the tab. He said city department heads were asked what they could do for less money so, the Humane Society should also be asked what they can do for less. He considers the Lemhi Education Project (LEP) to be a very worthy cause but said it is receiving funds from both the city and the county. Dunlop said since the LEP serves everyone in the county, including city residents, the county should supply the funding.

He thanked Fealko and City Clerk Mary Benton for offering their help in answering any budget questions he had.

The formal hearing was closed and later in the meeting the council discussed the public requests to not cut the SOS budget.

Council President Jim Baker was in favor of making a cut of $3,000 instead of the proposed $5,000. Fealko explained the extra $2,000 would have to come from within the budget because according to state law once the proposed budget is published it cannot be exceeded.

Various options were suggested as to which funds could be used in order to make up the extra $2,000 and all suggestions were dismissed. Baker then made a motion that a percentage of funds be taken from each department of the General Fund and the motion passed unanimously. The percentage to be taken out of each department amounts to .12 percent.

The council action means the Bigley’s Salmon Outdoor School will receive an extra $2,000 over what was proposed in the budget bringing the total SOS budget to $12,000.

Ordinance 16-816 is the city’s $4,231,144 budget appropriation for Fiscal Year 2016-17. In discussion following a motion to pass the first reading of the ordinance Councilman Rob Jackson stated he didn’t think publications were clear enough for the public to understand the budget was being raised. Councilman Ken Hill said the newspaper publication did say there was to be a .75 increase over last year and Councilman Jim Bockelman said the city could perhaps make more of an effort to explain however; the budget is complicated and hard to put into layman’s terms. The roll call vote on the ordinance’s first reading passed on a four to one vote with Jackson voting ‘no’ and Councilmen Bockelman, Hill, Baker and Neal James voting in favor.

The motion to approve Resolution 2016-2 which contains the city facility rental fee schedule for 2016-17 passed unanimously.

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