Sv Projects Budget Surplus As Income Drops

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Unlike most towns around the state, Star Valley has roughly a quarter million to play with next year without tapping into its million-dollar reserve fund.

How the council divvies that money up between water, sewer, roads and floodwater projects is still up in the air after a two-hour budget meeting Wednesday night.

What is known is that the council does not want to dip into its reserve fund and would like to add $250,000 to it while revenues continue to plummet.

So far, the town expects state and photo enforcement revenues to drop 25 percent, as well as town sales tax to fall 15 percent in 2010-2011.

“You really need to hedge for several years,” said Glenn Smith, financial consultant for the town.

Hopefully, there is an uptick in state revenues, but until that happens, the town needs to tighten its belt on expenses, he added.

For Star Valley, that means instead of having roughly $1.4 million to use on major capital improvement projects, the town has around $900,000, Smith said.

Councilor Vern Leis said it is safer to assume the town has $750,000, since it is unknown how the budget year will end.

Councilor Gary Coon said although the town has money in the bank, it is “kind of a false prosperity” because the town “really hasn’t done that much.”

Once larger projects begin, the money will be eaten up.

Coon added water should be the town’s focus next year.

Leis, chair of the Water and Sewer Commission, proposed one of the larger town projects. The commission would like to set up a municipal water system.

It should cost $188,000 for engineering and design, water quality tests, well equipment, easements, a legal retainer, request with SRP and installation of a small distribution system, Leis said.

“Our priority is to become a small municipal water supplier so that we can apply for SRP (Salt River Project) before it is allocated,” he said. “This ensures future water for Star Valley.”

Star Valley is one of more than a dozen small communities that could qualify for a share of the 500 acre-feet of Blue Ridge water earmarked for Northern Gila County.

The commission would also like $18,000 for monitoring of well contamination, $15,000 for well and rain gauge monitoring, $12,000 to attend classes and for monthly meetings and $8,000 for sewer projects.

The Flood Water Task Force is asking for $266,000 to complete several projects.

The first and most important is clearing debris and objects clogging water channels. Using citizen volunteers, it would cost $80,000 for a creek cleanup, said Bill Mennen, committee member.

Mennen stressed it is important the town stand behind its commitment to ease flooding, which every year erodes residents’ property.

“We need to keep our sense of urgency,” he said.

After mailing out 123 surveys to property owners near waterways, of those that responded, 32 percent said they would volunteer to help neighbors clear obstructions near their homes.

“Those who sent it back were in agreement with our solutions,” he said. “We are getting them on our side and don’t want to lose them.”

Long-term projects for the task force are constructing a crossing at Moonlight Drive for $180,000 and constructing a detention basin study for $5,000.

Detention basins placed at the northern boundary of town would slow water runoff and prevent erosion of banks permanently, he said.

In addition, the task force would like $1,000 for travel to flood water meetings.

Streets and Roads has several projects in the works, including chip sealing 860 feet of Moonlight Drive that is crumbling and putting granite down and grading Flint Road and Brown Road. State shared revenues cover most of these projects.

At the end of Wednesday’s meeting, the council agreed it needed to meet again to discuss next year’s budget.

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