Council approves $20 mill budget | SierraSun.com
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Council approves $20 mill budget

JOHN A. BAYLESS, Sierra Sun

Truckee Town Council approved a $20 million balanced budget last week, while increasing staffing at the sheriff’s substation, animal control staffing, and setting aside monies for a number of programs.

“The clear bottom line is that it is balanced,” Town Manager Steve Wright said as he presented the final product to council last week. “It has funded reserves and improved services over last year, the year before that and the year before that. It is something that Truckee residents can be proud of in their decision to incorporate – that the projections in each year since incorporation have been exceeded and in each year since incorporation we have had balanced budgets. This year is no exception.”

He said more than 50 percent of the $20 million 1999-2000 budget represents capital improvement projects, including work on roads and bridges.

“The revenue in the budget reflects the economic health of Truckee and the health of the business community,” Wright said. He said more revenue has been generated from housing construction and commercial construction. In addition, increased income is expected from the transient occupancy tax, due to the recent opening of the Holiday Inn Express at Donner Gate.

The budget reflects increases in sheriff’s substation service levels, including a new grant-funded traffic officer and a dispatcher. The town will also be paying the full cost of the school resources officer, because the school district said it can no longer afford to pay for the position.

“The Town of Truckee has been paying $28,000 for the position, and will now pay $22,000 more,” Wright said. “The budget also includes one additional Animal Control officer and a part-time kennel attendant, both with the intent of allowing increased enforcement.”

The new budget also replaces the part-time interns formerly employed by the town with a single planning/engineering technician, who will be shared between the planning and engineering departments and also three seasonal public works employees.

Capital expenditures in the budget include:

– $4.52 million in roadwork, including Tahoe Donner’s Town Special Services Area and Measure A funds for backbone roads.

– $467,000 in drainage work.

– $2.11 million in projects downtown, if the property-owners downtown vote to form a special tax district for improvements.

-$1.6 million to finish construction of the Glenshire Bridge.

– $128,000 in trails planning and implementation.

The new budget also includes $600,000 for land acquisition and design of a new Town Hall.

“We have not identified the site or what the structure will look like yet,” Wright said. “We’ll do a needs assessment and then start talking about where it will be.”

Councilmembers praised the work of town staff in assembling the budget.

“This is a substantial document and it reflects six years of staff effort to put together an outstanding process,” Councilmember Don McCormack said. “They have gotten very good at this process, and I guess we have gotten good at reviewing it.”

He said the process is made easier by priority-setting workshops throughout the year and by having a road maintenance plan and a capital-improvement program.

Councilmember Maia Schneider was also pleased with the budget.

“This budget is conservative and it always has been,” she said. “We always overestimate expenditures and underestimate revenues. Hats off to all who put it together.”

Mayor Josh Susman pointed out that the budget includes $100,000 in increased Animal Control funding, as well as funds for other pro-active projects, like replacing the town’s old street sweeping machine with a more environmentally-friendly one.

Although Councilmember Bob Drake voted for the budget, he said he was opposed to the school district cutting its funding for the school resources officer.

“This protest is not directed at individual teachers, who in my opinion are extraordinary people doing perhaps one of the most important jobs in today’s world,” Drake said. “My dissatisfaction is with the educational system. From the federal and state level, programs, projects and new directions are constantly shoved down on local government to implement. The schools seek and quite often receive monies from bond issues, statewide propositions and grant sources, and in our case, the lottery. It is never enough and constantly the schools ask for more.”

He said the schools, since they have their own funding sources, should pay their own way.

“I will vote for the budget, including the increased funding, because I believe it is a worthwhile and justified position,” Drake said. “But I wish education would get its act together. No wonder charter schools are growing and the coupon effort continues to draw support.”


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