Star Valley’s Town Council continues to be conservative and cautious with public money.
Last year the council decided the town needed a $2.6 million reserve fund by June 30, 2013. The staff not only met the target, but actually closed fiscal 2012-13 with $2,751,553 in reserves.
At its July 2 meeting, the council once again set the reserve fund target for the end of fiscal year 2013-14 at $2.6 million.
“That $2.6 million was a large number when we did this last year. We did a good job in selecting projects (making attaining the reserve possible),” said Councilor Vern Leis. “I think our state-shared revenues will be relatively stable, but I have concerns about what might happen with photo enforcement,” which is the money the town gets from the photo speed cameras on the highway.
He said state officials repeatedly have proposed banning the speed cameras. “I’d want to protect us. I’d like to keep (the reserve fund) at $2.6. It’s a real working number and (will help create) a sound future,” Leis said.
Councilor Barbara Hartwell agreed with that target.
“We are going to be growing and we need to keep ourselves safe,” she said.
Councilors George Binney, Paty Henderson and Gary Coon and Mayor Ronnie McDaniel all agreed.
“I don’t have a problem saving it to use when it’s needed,” Binney said. He then suggested some projects to consider:
• Check the well and buildings on the property just purchased by the town. “I’ve heard it’s a good well and produces enough water to reach The Knolls and town hall,” he said. He said the (home) on the property has too many levels to serve as a public building because of access for the handicapped. “The barn has no footings,” Binney said.
He wants professionals to look at the well and the structures and come up with a study on how to best use the property.
Mayor McDaniel suggested the town’s own water manager should check the capacity of the well.
• Binney also proposed improving Sprague Crossing. He and others met with residents that use the crossing and they were told the town would keep it graded, but there were concerns about what other work the town might do on the site in the future. He said they seemed to be satisfied with what the town shared.
Town officials have promised residents to keep the crossing graded, although some homeowners worried about finding a long-term solution.
Henderson said it remains unclear who actually owns the Sprague Crossing.
McDaniel said Town Manager Tim Grier has promised homeowners the town would take care of the road and repair minimal flood damage.
“There is no big rush to decide what we should do with (the new property) though,” McDaniel added.
Coon and Leis agreed the town’s new property and its well should be checked out.
“It has the potential to meet our building needs,” Coon said.
“We need to start doing future planning for the piece of property,” Leis said.
Coon then suggested the town look into being a more complete water provider.
“We’re in the water business now and we shouldn’t sit on the existing hookups. We need to look into expanding our customer base,” Coon said.
The first step would involve checking the condition of all the wells in the system to get accurate projections about their productivity. Before seeking more customers, the town needs to know how much water it has, Coon said.
“When we look at increasing the use of water, most, I believe, would not hook up to town water,” Binney said.
“Whatever money we spend, it must be to best serve the community,” Leis said.