Council approves $22 million budget |

Council approves $22 million budget

The town’s budget, down $5 million from last year’s expected spending, was approved by the Truckee Town Council.

The budget for the 2002-2003 fiscal year, which has been picked apart at three public workshops, totals approximately $22 million.

The reduction in spending is mainly due to last year’s start-up costs for the new police department, as well as a $2.3 million carryover from last year.

Although the town’s budget has not been significantly altered due to the uncertainty of the state’s budget, money has been set aside in case more state funding is pulled.

“[The budget] certainly reflects some caution that we’ve taken related to the state,” said Jill Olsen, administrative services director.

Of the $8 million to be spent on capital improvement projects – like a downtown parking analysis, the completion of the bypass, environmental work, paving and drainage projects and riverfront development — $2.6 million will come from the general fund, with the remainder funded primarily by grants and traffic impact fees.

Just under $4 million has been set aside for the police department.

Although the department’s budget is down $1 million from the last fiscal year, police department expenditures remain one of the highest in this year’s budget.

Truckee resident George Robertson argued Thursday night that the police department is receiving too much money. He described the police department as being a “two-headed monster” that is “gobbling up the general fund.”

But the department and the town argue that the additional expenses were necessary to provide the services Nevada County provided a year ago.

When the town was paying Nevada County for police services the cost was less, but the difference is not significant, Olsen said.

“The council was aware that we would be spending more money,” she said. “It’s definitely higher than it was with Nevada County, but we’re trying to provide the services that we were paying Nevada County for.”

Plus, Olsen said, the town can now control staffing decisions and make budget cuts regarding the police department where needed – something that could not be done a year ago.

The police department will spend an estimated $1.7 million on full-time employees this year.

Commander Scott Berry said the budget increase was necessary to fully staff the department, something that was not accomplished when Nevada County was in charge.

Another item in the police department budget this year is funding for a new boat to patrol Donner Lake. The boat will be fully funded by a state boating grant, which will give the department $45,000 for the purchase.

The department decided that a response boat was necessary after analyzing citizen input.

Another large portion of the budget will go to public works — $2.5 million for snow removal and $1.3 million for road maintenance. The $2.5 million is about $1 million more than last year’s estimated expenditures on snow removal.

“Most of [the increase] is new equipment necessary for new roads we’re going to maintain,” said Dan Wilkins, publics works director.

As a result of the bypass, the town will now have to maintain the 267 corridor, which was formerly maintained by Caltrans.

One concern addressed by the council was an increase in medical insurance costs, which is reflected in the cost of employee benefits.

“I don’t think [health insurance costs] will increase significantly in the next few years,” said Councilman Don McCormack.

The insurance costs, which have more than doubled in the last 10 years, are split 50/50 with town employees.

Overall, the council agreed that the budget presented Thursday is conservative.

“Jill’s a tightwad and we like that,” Councilwoman Maia Schneider joked.

Also included in this year’s budget is the council’s mid-year action to create a $100,000 affordable housing plan.

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