$20 million budget approved by council
Truckee’s town budget for fiscal 2000-2001 year was approved unanimously at the Town Council meeting on July 6, where a variety of measures ranging from drainage to pay raises for town employees were also passed.
The budget, totaling $20,818,364, shows that the town is in good financial health and has a growing stock of reserve thanks to sound management in the past years.
Town administrative services director Jill Olsen praised the town’s spending habits, and said that “we have very conscientious managers aboard as well as conscientious employees.”
She said that expenses in the 100-odd page budget are similar to last year’s, but that this year’s shows significant growth in reserves, which she says has been an ongoing effort by town administrators. Olsen explained that the strong reserves are due to higher revenues from property, sales, and transient occupancy taxes among others. Solid income from these sources have helped offset decreases in state revenues, she said.
“We’re still fiscally healthy and are spending very prudently, and we have some new issues on the horizon that will be challenging,” Olsen added. Some of those challenges include the new town hall as well as considering a new police department, which Olsen said would have a significant impact on the town’s finances should it be approved.
Olsen also informed the council that there have been changes in calculating the population bases of gas and motor vehicle in-lieu taxes. Previously, the estimated revenues from these taxes were based on the number of registered voters, but that now Truckee tax collectors will use state Department of Finance population figures which will lower the town population rolls by 4,000 to 12,500.
Olsen said that the town does not intend to spend its reserves, and reported that the coming year’s special cost of moving town hall has been accounted for in the budget.
Councilman Josh Susman noted that some of the reserves might have to be used to cover unforeseen moving costs. Olson mentioned that Truckee already issued bonds to help finance the purchase of a new town hall in June, and that some of the money raised in there would be applied to capital costs associated with the new location.
Olson proposed that some of the reserves might be applied to a potential town of Truckee police department.
Olson added that the new budget also covers the $200,000 necessary for staffing increases in the the building and safety division of the community development department. She said that more staff was needed in building safety because the present staff is overworked by the large number of inspection requests.
Because of the quantity of work, Olson said that she allocated some of the reserves to the building and safety division which could overextend its budget due to the building activity this year.
Among its highlights, the new budget expects a rise in tax revenues by $850,000, or 13 percent over last year’s expected revenues. Gas taxes revenues are expected to fall while the budget transit revenues to rise.
On the expenditure side, the town expects to spend over 40 percent less on tourist promotions than they did this year, while redevelopment agency costs are expected to rise 32 percent. The sheriff was allocated 14 percent more money than last year. Olson also said that the $8.7 million in total capital outlay would cover snow removal, road improvement and related costs.
Olson said that the new budget has gone through two days of public workshops which were well attended by town residents.
Among other items discussed at the June 6 meeting, Town Engineer Daniel Wilkins obtained approval to designate pay for a drainage improvement project on Jibboom Street out of Measure A funds, projects that had originally been allocated general fund. He explained that the completed work on the street’s storm drain has helped resolve drainage problems that have prematurely decayed the street since its last paving in 1993.
Councilmen Susman and McCormack brought up the proposed redevelopment of the old Mill Site on Highway 89 at Interstate 80, suggesting that they lead a committee to explore options for the site. They mentioned the possibility of a public/private joint effort to develop the area.
“This is certainly a complicated site and those complications make it perfect for a collaborative project,” McCormack said.
Town Manager Steve Wright reported that Donner Lake’s ongoing water quality study is continuing to determine levels of MTBE contaminants. Wright also reported that the public utilities commission is considering a ban on new water connections to Donner Lake’s Del Oro water company.
The council used the occasion to informally express their disappointment with Del Oro’s service. Mayor Maia Schneider said that she has “great empathy” for the area’s residents because of their ongoing water problems.
The council also approved of a 3.4 percent raise for town employees and mid-managers that calls for administrative and sick leave standards as well as incentive pay and insurance benefits for mid-level managers.
Finally, the budget for the redevelopment agency was unanimously approved.
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The Tahoe Institute for Natural Science on Wednesday announced the release of its latest Tahoe Nature Activity Book.