Newsletter to Continue in Final Riverton City Budget
Jul 13, 2016 09:00AM
● By Briana Kelley
Riverton City’s Finance Department has been working hard on the city budget the past few months. From left: Lisa Dudley, administrative services director and finance director; Trish Dixon, Human Resources technician; Kevin Hicks, assistant finance director; Laura Bown, payroll technician; Jiny Proctor, staff accountant. - ©Riverton City Communications
By Briana Kelley | [email protected]
Riverton City Council unanimously passed the budget for this year (fiscal year 2016-2017) at the June 14 council meeting. The decision comes after a month of discussion and deliberation on how best to direct resources. Many issues, including the city newsletter, were discussed before the final vote was made.
“The budget is the most important document in municipal government. The budget is the legal document that gives local government officials the authority to incur obligations and pay expenses. It is also the document that allows projects to be completed and services to be performed for the benefit and enjoyment of its residents,” Lisa Dudley, Administrative Services & Finance Director, said.
During the June 14 council meeting, council members unanimously adopted the tax rate for 2016 of .000000 for the 2016 tax year. After further discussion on culinary water fees and garbage tote fees, a motion to leave all funds as is was passed unanimously. The Fee Schedule was then approved 4-1 with Staggs voting no.
The council also decided to continue delivering a paper newsletter to residents throughout the year, though the publication will no longer be monthly. Councilmember Tricia Tingey made a motion to fund a newsletter and residential survey by redirecting funds found in the budget.
The motion was made after concerns were voiced about people in the city who rely on the newsletter, including the senior center and certain residents. Tingey was also concerned by the low amount of residents currently signed up for the electronic newsletter.
“I’m quite frankly embarrassed and I want to offer an apology to those residents [who use the newsletter],” Tingey said concerning the “hasty” decision to end the newsletter. “There needs to be education before you just rip it from them...the newsletter is necessary. That’s how I feel.”
The funds will provide for a newsletter four-five times this year and will fund a survey at the end to gauge residential interest and use. It passed 3-2 with Stewart and Staggs voting no.
Stewart’s substitute motion, which did not pass, proposed a quarterly newsletter with a more extensive survey.
Other than the newsletter and salary increase for council members, there were no other large changes to the multi-million-dollar budget. The budget was passed unanimously and will go into effect July 1. In doing so, the city remains in compliance with state and federal auditory laws and statutes.
Staff and elected officials have been working hard to finish the budget on time. Applegarth, who acts as the Chief Financial Officer, took staff and elected official recommendations from the strategic planning sessions conducted earlier this year and wrote the mayor’s budget. Council members then spent the month of May reviewing the budget and making suggestions.
“Every time a different group of people looks at the budget, they will see things differently. By that I mean when the staff makes their budget, they are looking at it from a worker’s viewpoint. What do they need to do a good job? They understand what they need to do and they are the best group to know what tools they need to do the job,” Applegarth said.
“The Mayor [and the council] looks at it from a sustainability point of view. Can we afford to pay for what staff wants? And, can we continue to pay for it for many years? For example… can we continue to pay for a program we start now, in five more years? Or, does the increased cost to the program make it impossible to continue to provide the service? If it isn’t sustainable, should you continue or start certain new programs?” Applegarth added.