With many cities and towns forced to curb spending in the rough economic times, Star Valley wants to stay ahead and afloat of its finances.
Last week the Star Valley council decided unanimously at a special meeting to hire a consultant to monitor their budget until a new town manager is hired.
Former Payson Chief Financial Officer Glen Smith was hired on a $60 an hour basis to analyze Star Valley’s budget and finances and complete trends analysis as needed by the town.
Interim town manager Tim Grier said he does not want Star Valley to be like Payson and other Arizona towns who have budget issues.
“We are in difficult economic times,” Grier warned the council.
Council member Barbara Hartwell agreed the town needed to hire someone to make sense of their budget.
“I honestly believe we need him, we need him badly to keep us straight,” Hartwell said.
Smith, who answered questions from the council in a work-study session before the special meeting, said he has more than 40 years experience in accounting with five cities and towns of various sizes.
During his 11 years with Payson as a CFO, Smith said he worked closely with the council and monitored their budget successfully.
Smith said after looking at the town’s general fund and budget recently, the town is doing well financially.
“Of what I have seen so far, you’re doing good as a young city,” Smith said. “You’re moving slowly, which is good.”
Smith warned the town not to rely heavily on the traffic enforcement funds as a permanent source of income.
“If they’re effective, and they are, that will go down and it should,” Smith said. “You should be careful not to rely on speed enforcement cameras.”
Smith suggested the town create a one-page quarterly report that details how the town is doing.
Smith will monitor town finance in month-by-month spreadsheets that can eventually be used for trend analysis. He also suggested creating a cash reserve of 5 percent to 10 percent in the general fund.
Mayor Chuck Heron said, “I want to operate on no surprises.”
Also at the meeting, the council approved appointing interim town manager and attorney Tim Grier as the chief financial officer to fulfill legal requirements.
The council also approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Gila County Magistrate Court for the Star Valley Magistrate Court to process tickets from the speed enforcement cameras along Highway 87.
Star Valley will pay 32 percent of the court’s budget minus judicial salaries for the set up until the end of 2008. At the start of the year, the percentage will be recalculated based on the number of case filings handled by the court.
If the number of photo tickets goes down for example, the percentage will be lowered accordingly.