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Soldotna considers lower budget: City trims 2 percent in proposed spending plan

Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010

The City of Soldotna is gearing up to adopt its nearly $12 million proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2011.

An ordinance adopting the budget was introduced at Wednesday night's Soldotna City Council meeting, with two public hearings set for May 28 and June 9 before it's officially enacted.

The city's proposed budget this year is some $215,000, or 2 percent, less than the fiscal year 2010 budget, said Larry Semmens, Soldotna's city manager. Part of the decrease can be attributed to city administration's review of past budgeted amounts and actual expenditures.

"We looked back and said 'how much are we really spending?'" he said. "We carefully reviewed all of the line items and eliminated line items where we haven't spent the budget."

He said this careful accounting is part of Soldotna's ongoing effort to continue to improve its financial systems.

The reduced budget this year is also due to the city's change in insurance carriers, Semmens said.

By switching from the Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association to Alaska Public Entity Insurance, the city's insurance budgets for this year decreased by about $235,000.

"It's a better plan for less money," Semmens said, adding that employee's pay less of a premium for more coverage.

And Semmens had more positive news for municipal employees.

"Wages will continue to increase due to negotiated agreements," he said.

Soldotna's fiscal year 2011 operating budget includes $8,326,000 in the general fund. The city has $1.2 million designated for unspecified capital projects.

Also included are $1,421,500 for parks and recreation, $1,170,095 for the utility fund and some $360,000 in the shop fund. There's $185,000 in the equipment fund, $173,956 in the airport fund and $34,000 in the trust fund.

If approved after the June 9 public hearing, the budget would be effective from July 1 this year through June 30, 2011.

In other council action:

* Enacted an ordinance amending the Soldotna municipal code relating to conflicts of interest of city officials;

* Passed a resolution awarding a $39,100 sole source contract to the Kenai Watershed Forum for design and construction of a green parking lot at the Soberg House;

* Passed a resolution authorizing a contract award for the Banner Lane Road improvement project to North Star Paving and Construction, Inc. for $260,858.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.



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