Star Valley’s financial advisor suggested Tuesday evening that the town drastically change next year’s budget to better prepare for a rainy day.
Like the town’s wells, if more is taken out than replenished, they could find themselves one day in a soggy mess.
To prevent this, Glenn Smith proposed the town decrease the contingency and capital projects funds and create a rainy day fund. The town has a contingency fund already in place, but has never created a reserve fund, which could be used if the town suddenly needed money.
Smith and Town Manager Tim Grier proposed some of their ideas for next year’s budget at a Tuesday work-study session. This is the first time the council has met to discuss the budget, and no decisions were made. The council plans to meet in a special session at least one more time before a budget is proposed.
“From my point of view, nothing is more important than the budget,” Grier said. “We want to give you (the council) the opportunity to look at the numbers so you can figure out what a municipal budget is.”
Town Clerk Sarah Luckie supplied the council with a draft of where the town stands today, and a possible budget for next year. Much of the data was incomplete, with grants missing, but was used as an overview for the council.
Grier compared a town’s budget to a water cooler. The spigot represents the expenditures for the town — what is leaving the cooler. What is flowing into the cooler represents the revenue.
“Hopefully you keep enough water in the cooler to keep the town running,” Grier said. “We think it would be wise for the town to create a reserve fund.”
Grier said he and Smith are changing the way the budget is put together from former town manager Vito Tedeschi’s method.
“Not to be critical of Tedeschi, but with different economic times, we could do things different and better,” Grier said.
Grier said his goal was to create an understandable budget for the council.
“In the past, the budget has not been understandable enough to make decisions,” Grier said.
Smith pointed out that Tedeschi put $500,000 in a capital outlay fund, so the town could purchase a permanent town hall site, which it later decided not to pursue. He also put $640,000 into a contingency fund, which Smith said he could not figure out for what purpose.
“If you have a large contingency fund, you dilute the budget, it is no longer a budget,” Smith said.
If the council had spent $500,000 on a town hall and $640,000 in contingencies, like Tedeschi had budgeted, the town would have been left with no reserve.
Smith proposes the council create an 8 percent unappropriated reserve fund to prevent this from happening in the future.
At the council’s regularly scheduled meeting, a resolution was passed to increase the cost of public records from 25 cents per page to 50 cents.
Grier said the increase was needed because it costs the town more than 25 cents to make a copy.
“Fifty cents will not cover the cost, we will be coming out on the losing end,” he said.
Councilor George Binney suggested the town use a sliding scale to determine the cost based on the number of copies requested. For example, if 100 copies were requested, it would cost less than one.
The council ultimately decided to increase the cost of copies across the board, regardless of the number requested.
In other business:
• The council unanimously approved a conditional use permit for Wayne and Kristy Dillon to live in a manufactured home on their property during construction of their new home, with the stipulation that the mobile home is removed 60 days after the home passes final inspection.