By Michael Howell
After having saved the taxpayers close to $980,000 through reduced taxes over the last two years, the City of Hamilton is now “getting some of that back,” according to Special Projects Director Dennis Stranger who worked closely with City Finance Officer Craig Shepherd in crafting a draft budget for the coming fiscal year.
Stranger told the Council that the primary driver in the new budget is the increased capital expenditures needed to address longstanding deferred maintenance on city infrastructure. Last year’s capital expenditures amounted to $555,000, he said, and this year the budget reflects about $4.4 million in capital expenditures.
The overall budget projects $9.5 million in revenues with $11 million in expenses. Stranger said that the City had been anticipating these expenditures and had a lot of cash on hand to meet those expenses. He provided a three-part breakdown of the $11 million in expenses as $3.1 million to personal services, $3.5 million for operations, and $4.4 million to capital expenditures.
Stranger said that due to the recent failure to receive a grant for development of the River Park trail, that expense of $53,600 was eliminated from the budget. He said the money could be used to do another block of paving in a street improvement project. He said budgeted projects included a waterline replacement, the reconstruction of Honey Lane, the Ravalli Street project and another project on Fairgrounds Road.
The capital expenditures also include $322,000 in vehicles and equipment and $25,000 per month for electricity and gas.
The preliminary budget was adopted unanimously.
“It makes good sense. We’ll be well served by it,” said Councilor Ken Bell.
The Council also approved the purchase of a mini-excavator from Western States Equipment at a cost of $56,788.
The City Council agreed to sign a contract with Ravalli County Recycling to recycle anything the city produces as refuse that can be recycled by the company. A plan has been worked out by getting estimates of the kind and quantity of the materials being produced that comes to an estimated cost of about $60 per month in the winter and about $110 in the summer. Doug Soehren of RCR said that the program would be monitored and adjustments made based on the real materials and quantity being produced.