Conservative money management has Star Valley sitting pretty as 2013 closes. The council directed staff to maintain a $2.6 million reserve by the end of the 2013-2014 budget year. Halfway through, the town has a reserve of $3 million.
A chunk of money is earmarked for road and water improvements, but the council decided to award each of its five-member staff a $500 year-end bonus at its Dec. 17 meeting.
“The staff is the only thing that makes things work. They have all done yeoman’s work. Bonuses are due by this staff this year,” said Councilor Vern Leis.
Mayor Ronnie McDaniel agreed.
“We have an exceptional staff,” said Councilor Barbara Hartwell.
“Bonuses are the obvious thing to show our gratitude,” added Councilor Gary Coon.
Once approved, Tim Grier, town manager and town attorney, told the council, “Your appreciation is very valuable and generous. Everyone pitched in. We are family.”
To spread some of the burden being borne by the small town staff, Hartwell asked for a discussion about creating committees for such things as water, streets and roads, floodwater and planning special events.
“We should take some chores and responsibilities off the staff backs. Get people to help with some of the things the staff shouldn’t even have to think about,” Hartwell said.
“Talking about committees, didn’t we pass something against council members serving?” Councilor Paty Henderson asked.
“That was commissions,” Hartwell answered.
Grier stepped into the conversation at that point.
“If a group is appointed and makes recommendations to the council it can be called either a committee or commission,” he said.
Councilor George Binney said he wanted to keep (any group working for the town) informal.
“Commissions don’t work … residents won’t even show up on Tuesday nights to tell us what they want,” he said.
“George and I were both involved in using commissions. We couldn’t get people to a meeting,” Leis said.
“We’re talking about spending $30,000 a year for minutes and transcriptions and that dilutes our expendable reserve,” he added.
“I don’t want to add to the burden of the staff or our finances. Where we are today is where we should stay for the future,” he concluded.
Hartwell said she was not talking about putting anything in place to do something on an ongoing basis, rather just having council members and residents help out occasionally.
“The model I’d suggest to help staff would be to solicit the help of a couple of council, a staff member and a couple of community members to work together (as needed). “Everyone here has different expertise,” Grier said.
This model is what Star Valley has used to work on the getting its streets and roads master plan completed and an entry sign created to welcome people to the community.
Leis has taken the helm to move the street plan forward and Coon has assumed the responsibility to get information for entry signs.