Mid-year budget review shows town $900,000 ahead | SierraSun.com

Mid-year budget review shows town $900,000 ahead

Budget review shows that the Town of Truckee is $909,729 in the black half-way through its fiscal year, Administrative Services Director Jill Olsen reported to town council last week.

Of the savings amount totaling nearly $1 million, $630,000 are carry-forward funds from the 1998 – ’99 fiscal year.

A successful auction and fiber- optic encroachment fees also brought the town’s budget significantly further from the red.

Taxes from the sale of real estate were 29 percent higher than anticipated, while sales tax and hotel tax revenues were also greater than expected.

“More [hotel tax revenue] means more visitors,” Council member Bob Drake said.

Not all the fiscal news was good, however.

Olsen reported that at mid-year, the department of the town attorney had already exceeded its budget for the entire year.

“And none of it went to me,” Town Attorney J. Dennis Crabb said.

The expense overage is a result of the Peoria-Sunnyside versus Town of Truckee lawsuit, in which $287,000 was spent on specialty counsel fees. A “time-out” was recently called in the case while Peoria-Sunnyside pursues a Downtown Specific Plan amendment. The terms of the time-out agreement were made a matter of public record at Thursday’s meeting.

Olsen recommended that the budget be adjusted to cover the $287,000 in specialty legal fees, an additional $1,250 for a satellite phone system purchase for Truckee’s emergency operations center and $1,300 in road impact fees for the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District Teen Center.

The remainder, an apparent $620,150 surplus, should be earmarked for new town hall expenses, such as remodel, equipment or down payment costs, Olsen said.

Olsen cautioned against spending the apparent surplus in any other manner.

Town council accepted Olsen’s report.

“That’s certainly good news,” Mayor Maia Schneider said.

Immediately following Olsen’s presentation, South Shore Drive resident Larry Ferral appealed a zoning administrator action which prevents Ferral from constructing a covered walkway from his home to his parking area.

Ferral, 70, proposes a covered stairway up his steep north-facing lot to alleviate the shoveling required to access the property.

On Jan. 12, the zoning administrator denied Ferral’s variance application for the construction of a covered walkway based on the following findings:

– Denial of the variance application would not deprive the property of privileges enjoyed by other nearby property subject to the same zoning ordinances.

– Granting the variance would constitute a grant of special privileges to Ferral inconsistent with limitations upon other property within the same zone. Such action would violate state law.

– Approval of the variance application would degrade the integrity and character of the zoning district and the welfare of the neighborhood by limiting the sight distance of neighbors.

“I am appealing because I believe that this denial imposes an unreasonable burden on me without serving a significant public purpose,” Ferral wrote in his request for an appeal.

Council member Don McCormack said that each council member had driven by the property and he agreed that the snow removal requirements of the property were formidable. However, current restrictions do not allow for the variance.

Council members Josh Susman and Drake agreed that they were faced with a difficult decision.

“The gentleman has been a taxpayer here for 15 years and has now got a difficulty,” Drake said. “My sympathy and empathy are with these folks. I just want to see a way to help. My personal view is that these folks have been here a good number of years and we owe it to them to help them.”

Ferral agreed to table the issue for six months and will in the meantime work with town staff examining potential modifications to current zoning ordinances, as suggested by Ferral in his opening statement.

“I would be very happy if there’s any interest in looking at modifications to that ordinance,” Ferral said.

Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook indicated that any change in the outcome of the Ferral variance application could set precedent in Truckee.

“If [a covered stairway] is appropriate here, it’s appropriate in a lot of other places,” Lashbrook said.

Other business:

– Town council voted 4 to 1 to proclaim support for Proposition 14, for library construction funding, and to encourage Truckee residents to vote and to likewise support the measure.

Council member Drake opposed the proclamation.

“My belief is I have no right to tell anyone how to vote,” Drake said.

– Council member Susman pulled item 6.10, approval of the filing of a final subdivision map, from the council’s consent calendar, he said, to draw public attention to the subject of the item: the River Village Homes affordable housing project.

“I’m pulling this just to bring some public awareness to it,” Susman said. “It’s been around a while.”

The tentative map for the subdivision was approved by town council in 1994. Since then, the affordable single-family dwelling ownership project has been revised to a rental project.

The revision occurred because grant funds for affordable housing rental projects are available while affordable ownership projects are not eligible for funding assistance, Lashbrook said.

“There’s not a lot of funding for anything,” Lashbrook said. “It’s important to provide ownership opportunities.”

– The next Truckee Town Council regular meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 23 at 6 p.m.

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