By Michael Howell
The Hamilton City Council adopted an $8 million budget for FY 2012 at its September 6 meeting. The budget is based upon a 146.4553 mill tax levy with a mill valued at $11,822.87. City employees will receive a 3 percent increase in pay which includes a 1.4 percent cost of living increase, except for the finance administrator who will receive a 5 percent increase. City Council members will not see a pay raise except for a 1.6 percent cost of living increase. The budget includes a 5.2961 mill exemption from property tax limitations for premium contributions for employee benefits.
The 2011-2012 budget begins with about $4.74 million in available cash, projects $7.71 million in revenues to cover $8.04 million in expenditures, leaving an ending balance of about $4.47 million.
Wages, salaries and employee benefits total about $2.8 million or about 35% of the total expenditures. Operating costs of about $3.32 million make up about 41% of the expenditures. Capital outlay, at $1.93 million, accounts for 24% of the total.
Special Projects Director Dennis Stranger told the council that only a few significant changes had been made to the preliminary budget that was reviewed at the last meeting. One change is the addition of the purchase of two street sweepers. Stranger explained that a grant for $385,281 had been received to pay for the street sweepers. The actual cost, however, totals about $445,000. He said that $423,195 would come from the General Fund and another $21,805 would come from the gas tax fund to pay for the sweepers. The grant money would reduce the actual costs to the city to about $60,000. Stranger said that the scheduled purchase of a front end loader from the Street Maintenance funds would be cancelled and the money saved would go to cover the $60,000 needed for the street sweepers.
“It’s a bargain by anybody’s standards,” said Stranger about the deal. He added that the dollars involved were “a little speculative,” since they were only working with the state’s estimated cost figures.
According to Stranger, a second significant change involved adding about $32,000 for personnel services. He said the additional funds were necessary for the continuation of an employee who is retiring. He said this dollar figure was also based on an estimate and could end up a bit different.
Stranger noted that the budget included four people receiving payments in lieu of health insurance. It includes two elected officials: the City Court Judge and the Mayor; and two employees, including the City Attorney and a seasonal employee in the Parks Department.
In other business the City Council:
• held a public hearing and approved a resolution establishing an assessment for the City of Hamilton Downtown Business Improvement District for FY 2012 (Budget year 2011-2012);
• held a public hearing and approved a resolution redefining the area included within the Hamilton Street Maintenance District to include newly annexed properties and a resolution establishing a 20 mill levy assessment for the district for FY 2012;
• held a public hearing and passed a resolution levying a special assessment for Lighting Districts #10, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 for FY 2012;
• held a public hearing and approved a resolution approving a 5.2961 mill exemption from the property tax limitation laws for premium contributions to employee group benefits and the final budget and tax levy for FY 2012;
• approved the appointment of Randy Eppinger as Probationary Police Officer. Chief Oster told the Council that Eppinger had graduated from the state Police Academy in 2006 and worked for six years for the Glacier County Sheriff’s Office in Cut Bank and came with good recommendations;
• approved payments not to exceed $2,200 to Lee Kierig as an addendum to his professional architectural services agreement;
• approved a payment not to exceed $8,610 for professional engineering services of WGM Group for the New York Avenue/10th Street evaluation;
• approved a payment not to exceed $11,215 for professional engineering services of WGM Group for the Fairgrounds Road evaluation;
• approved payment not to exceed $13,250 for professional services to Peaks and Plains Design for landscape and architectural services for Legion Park. The vote was 4 to 2 with dissenters concerned that it was duplicate spending and the wrong timing for the project.