Star Valley’s budget picture for next year remains rosy.
With a $1.2 million rainy day fund, a projected $120,000 increase in photo enforcement revenue and state shared proceeds remaining steady; the town is well positioned to take on any new projects.
At its last meeting the council approved a tentative $7.6 million budget — $2.8 million more than what was adopted in 2010.
One of the largest items driving the budget up is $1.5 million set aside for “miscellaneous capital projects.”
While the council has not appropriated what that money will go toward, several town commissions have proposed high-ticket projects for next year and the council is mulling over the option of buying a neighboring RV park.
The council discussed buying the Lazy D Ranch Apartments and RV Resort in executive session Tuesday. Afterward, the council announced it had not come to any decision on the park and directed Town Manager/Attorney Tim Grier to continue negotiations with park owner Doug daCosta.
The two-acre park would give the town room to grow and possibly expand town services.
Other projects include the Water and Sewer Commission’s $70,000 plan to hire a firm to monitor well water gauges and interpret the data and $15,000 to test well water quality.
The council has also set aside $50,000 for the Floodwater Task Force to begin a creek clearing program.
Working in small sections, task force members hope to begin work at the south end of town removing brush, trash and anything impeding the flow of water through the creek.
In subsequent years, the task force would take on larger sections of the creek, eventually clearing it up to Highway 260.
Last year, the town spent a large chunk of money on streets and roads projects. Nearly all town roads were paved, changing once deeply rutted and unsafe roads into smooth byways. At council meetings, several residents have expressed gratitude for the improved road surfaces.
Additionally, the town began several water crossing projects.
For the upcoming fiscal year that starts in July, the Streets and Roads Commission is asking for at least $200,000 for several additional projects.
Through April, the town’s finances remain well-balanced overall, with cuts in state-shared revenue having a minor effect on the town’s balanced budget.
The town’s general fund has so far spent $1.75 million out of the $2.52 million budgeted.
Nearly every department remains under budget.
That includes the photo enforcement department where the $517,000 budget accounts for 21 percent of the general fund.
So far this year, the photo enforcement tickets are about $49,000 over budget with the town anticipating to end the year at $920,000 — well over the $750,000 budgeted.
Next year, the town is budgeting $870,000 in photo enforcement revenue, a $120,000 increase over this year’s adopted budget, but $167,000 less than what the town took in two years ago.
Finance Administrator Chancy Nutt said the number of photo enforcement tickets is leveling off since the cameras were installed several years ago.
While still one of the town’s major revenue streams, it is no longer gushing as it did.
Finance consultant Glenn Smith said the town’s careful spending has paid off. No town staff is in jeopardy of losing their job and the town plans to add additional services, not cut them away.
In other council news:
• The town moved to redirect $240,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to two projects — drainage and street repair. At least $180,000 will go toward fixing drainage issues on Quail Hollow and Pinon Road and an undetermined amount to repair Cornerstone Road and Moonlight Drive.
• Adopted a new policy for accepting and giving donations. Instead of authorizing Grier to give donations under $5,000, the council moved to have all requested donations come before the council. The council agreed it was not Grier’s job to determine what causes were worthy of taxpayers’ money.
In addition, any real property donated to the town will also have to come before the council for approval.