The Star Valley Town Council had its first work study to start developing plans for the future Jan. 17. An overview of the town’s finances was the topic.
The council plans a series of work study meetings to discuss potential projects for the town over the next three years.
The sessions, said town manager Tim Grier, would help the council and staff establish a direction for the community.
“Maybe the direction we go is the same direction we have been going. It seems that we have had few missteps and what we have been doing has worked well. But now after 16 years since incorporation, I think we have choices. For example, do we still want to focus on water or do we want to shift to street and road projects,” said Grier in an interview with the Roundup.
“My thinking behind a three-year plan and not a five-year plan or longer is that it is hard to predict longer than three years. In a three-year time frame, we have a pretty good handle on what both our revenues and expenditures will be. I think the ability to predict accurately after three years gets a bit diluted. A three-year plan trims our focus. We will take it in bites,” he said.
The first work study was a financial presentation by Tina Woody, the town’s finance administrator and Grier.
“She discussed our fund balances, our revenues, our expenditures, whether we expect our revenues and expenditures will increase, decrease or remain stable in the next three years and all things in the financial world of Star Valley,” Grier said.
With the information given at the Jan. 17 session, the council members can think about what amounts they are comfortable with in the town’s reserve funds, Grier said.
He said he advised the council to not explore potential projects until it has heard from the town’s water operator and streets contractor.
“There are a lot of expensive projects on the horizon,” Grier said. Among these: the water system has a lot of old pipes, some 40 to 50 years old, to replace, plus there is a need to build two, large storage tanks at the Circle K Well, where the town’s community garden is located. Additionally the town council soon has to take action on repair and maintenance of Highland Drive. Grier said that work could cost $10,000.
The council heard that its revenue streams are expected to remain stable, or possibly see a 2 to 3% increase in the next two to three years, Grier said.
The next work study is with Dean Schaeffer, water department operator.
“He will talk about what we have accomplished since purchasing the water department and the projects, as he sees it, we still need work on.” Grier said.
“At the third work study session, we will have Roy Haught, our job order contractor for all things streets and roads, talk to the council about our needs for maintaining and improving our streets in the next three years.” Grier said.
Following those three work study sessions, the council and staff will discuss the history of Star Valley. What has been accomplished. What the goals, priorities and accomplishments of prior councils have been, as well as what it believes the citizens of Star Valley want their community to look like, he explained.
“We then hope to look at what we learned from the work study sessions and see if this council can find the direction it wants to go, as well as identifying and setting priorities for projects. Even though we have experience on this council with Mayor Bobby Davis, Vice Mayor Andy McKinney, Councilors George Binney, Ray Armington and Belle McDaniel, we also have one new council person, Matt Highstreet, and Dennis Dueker, who has only been on council a short time. I hope it is a plan that gives all council members an opportunity to articulate the direction they would like to see Star Valley go in the next three years,” Grier said.
He said when the town first incorporated and for several years afterward, the council had projects dictated by immediate need. One was securing a town hall. It also voted and budgeted to improve the quality of all the roads in town and expand the access to water by repairing and improving existing wells and drilling new sites. It is now believed the town has a secure 100-year water supply.
“Now the council has a choice about what projects to pursue on behalf of residents,” Grier said.
He added he expects this council to have the same conservative financial mindset as previous councils, making sure the town can weather any future financial storms and stay out of debt.
The remaining work study sessions: Tuesday, Feb. 7 – work study on water; Tuesday, Feb. 21 – work study on streets and roads; Tuesday, March 7 – work study on project priorities and three-year plan. Each session should follow the conclusion of regularly scheduled council meetings.