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Council approves budget

Erich Sommer, Sierra Sun

With the Town’s 2001-2002 budget up for adoption and an agenda full of items as varied as wood stoves, torches, TV and tourism funds, Town Hall was packed for last Thursday’s Town Council meeting.

And despite the fact this is the Town’s first budget since incorporation where revenues don’t exceed projected expenditures, most at the council meeting were there seeking money, funding or rebates.

“Overall, we are still financially healthy, we still have a good reserves,” Jill Olsen, director of administrative services said afterward. “Revenues are meeting expenditures.”

Olsen did, however, caution that effects of the slowing economy are making their way into the town budget.

“We are not forecasting any loss of revenues, but are forecasting slower growth. Almost every year (prior) we had extra money. Most of that would go to reserves.”

Because of the previous workshops in which many of the budgetary details were hashed out, it was with little fanfare that the council adopted the 2001-2002 budget.

Prior to the council’s vote, Olsen went over the highlights of the $27 million dollar budget, which include: $11.5 million going to capital improvements, $4.9 million to the Truckee Police Department, which is set to begin operations on Sept. 1, and the hiring of additional staff.

Capital improvements consist mostly of road work and maintenance, but also include everything from trial construction to a redevelopment housing program.

The new budget makes room for five new full-time positions on the town roster, including: a full-time position to be split between administrative services and the town clerk, a facilities maintenance worker, a traffic operations worker and two mechanics.

Olsen said the facilities maintenance position is related to the increase in the town properties while the need for two mechanics results primarily from the anticipated maintenance requirements of police vehicles.

With the additions to staff, “(The Town) will be assuming some of the contracts” for work previously farmed out to private companies, Olsen said.

Olsen and Town Manager Stephen L. Wright pointed out several times throughout the meeting that this was the first time in years that revenues equal expenditures.

“We are still anticipating growth; however, we have adjusted our projections,” said Olsen.

Visitors Services

The Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce was seeking an increase in funding for the visitor center and promotional services they provide for the Town.

The Chamber was asking for a 20 percent increase for the visitor center services and a 30 percent increase for promotional services as part of their proposed three year contract with the Town, which is included in the 2001-2002 budget.

The council increased the funding for visitor center services from the $91,400 initially proposed in the budget to $112,400, but through a flat rate and not an increase in the percentage of the Transient Occupancy Tax allotted to visitor services and promotion.

Council increased revenues for the Chamber’s promotional services from $96,900 to $121,000.

After receiving what they say was adequate funding, most of the Chamber members left, declining to take Councilman Josh Susman up on his offer to stay and take part in the haggling over the new town budget.

Other business

John Echols, a teacher at Truckee-Tahoe High School and executive director of Truckee Tahoe Community television, asked the council for General Fund support equivalent to a 1 to 3 percent portion of the Franchise Tax Fee ($34,000 to $102,000) to meet the equipment and staffing needs of the community tv channel.

While the council expressed unanimous approval for Channel 6, they denied Echols’ request, instead directing the town manager to work with Echols in hopes of finding money in the budget to meet the expressed needs.

Before the council delved into the budget and related fiscal issues, they took time to recognize the efforts of Donner Lake residents Emilie Kashtan and Kathy Polucha-Kessler.

Mayor Don McCormack presented certificates of appreciation to Kashtan and Kessler in recognition of their efforts “over and above the call of duty to ensure safe drinking water to the citizens and residents of the Donner Lake neighborhood.”

“I don’t know how much we can say about the importance of their connection to the Donner Lake water problem,” McCormack said.

Kessler in turned thanked the council.

“I want to thank the Town Council for their support The only body supporting us was the local government.”

Other items on the agenda that were approved included the Truckee Police Department Incentive Program, which would allow newly hired police officers and sergeants to retain sick leave and vacation time that they have accrued at their current employers.

The council also decided to approve the League of California Cities proposal and join the League, which lobbies on behalf of incorporated cities in California.

The Town Council also authorized the town manager and the town attorney to execute the agreement with the Olympic Committee that will bring the Olympic torch through Truckee next year.

“The agreement is very one-sided in favor of the Olympic Committee,” said Susman. “But we definitely support and want the torch to come through Truckee.”

Council postponed adoption of the wood stove change-out program to allow for Town Planner Duane Hall to clarify some of the language of the ordinance with local realtors. The council will consider the adoption of the wood stove ordinance during their next meeting on July 19.


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