Alta budget meeting sets priorities for coming fiscal tear

Friday, February 28, 2020

The City of Alta budget meeting was held on Feb. 18 for the fiscal year 2021 budget which will go into effect on July 1, if approved in March.

City Council members voted to set the final budget levy of $11.51, up from $10.59.

Mayor Kevin Walsh opposed that much of an increase, believing that Alta residents saw property taxes increase this year. Council member Pam Henderson voiced an opposing view. “I think we raise it because we have to. We need revenue,” she said. The increase would bring in an additional $69,000 for the city by FY 21-22, City Clerk Megan Peterson said.

The Alta Fire Department has a $50,000 budget and asked for an additional $10,000 to go toward the next fire truck replacement and other items. Mayor Walsh discussed the need to replace aging equipment at the fire station. “We definitely want to keep the fire department up to date,” he said.

Fire Chief Kirk “Bubba” Reetz said that a new fire truck is due to be purchased in 2024, and a portion of the extra funding requested would be placed into the fire reserve account, a type of city savings account, for that purchase. The council decided to increase the Fire Department’s budget to $55,000, an increase of $5,000 from last year.

The Street Department requested an increase in their budget. Council member Wes Bunjes discussed the department’s needs. “The streets need money. The streets need some help,” he said. Brad Pederson, Alta City Street Supervisor, said the extra funding is needed for several projects and equipment as well as for future replacement of a new street truck. The council agreed on a $25,000 budget for the department for next fiscal year.

The Library Board requested an increase of $6,000 in FY 21 for more summer hours and programs as well as for more work hours for Director Andrea Hogrefe. Council member Les Mann suggested leaving the library budget the same as last year, saying, “We need to get some money for infrastructure.” Peterson said if library funds are not increased, there will be less money to purchase books, snacks and other items. The council agreed to increase the library’s budget by $3,000, half of what they asked for.

The Park Board asked for a $50,000 increase specifically for the new playground and equipment they are currently raising funds for. Some council members suggested waiting to see what kind of fundraising can be done. They approved an increase to the Park Board of $10,000.

Budget cuts were made to some programs with the money being placed into what council members believe are more necessary areas, although Peterson said, “Historically, we’ve been doing pretty well,” remarking that there are always remaining funds at the end of the fiscal year.

A public hearing to approve the FY 21 budget will be held at the regular council meeting on March 2 at 6 p.m.