Manager: Soldotna finances look good

Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2003

Saying Soldotna is in "good shape" financially, the city manager described the city's proposed budget during the regular meeting of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce last week.

"The budget balances, based on some assumptions," Tom Boede-ker said Tuesday.

"First, that the mill levy will stay the same at 1.65 mills; that we'll have a 1 percent growth factor; and we'll have about $5.1 million in sales tax revenues," he said.

Boedeker distributed printed pie charts and tables to the two dozen attendees, describing the proposed $5,909,084 Soldotna budget for fiscal year 2004.

"Four major components account for the increase in the operating budget," he said, referring to a table listing payroll costs by department.

"The city's workmen's comp (insurance) is up almost $45,000, the Public Employees Retirement Savings almost doubles, health insurance averages a 17.5 percent increase and a built-in third-year collective bargaining agreement increases wages 3.37 percent," he said.

Boedeker told the group that Soldotna's wage scale is slightly lower than other communities on the Kenai Peninsula, accounting for difficulty in recruiting new police officers. He said the budget he has proposed to the city council would raise the Police Officer I position one pay range from range 8 to range 9.

Commenting on the proposed $672,867 operating budget for the city's streets department, Boedeker said, "This year we spent almost nothing hauling snow. Normally it's $80,000. This year we only spent $9,000."

The city manager also described capital projects planned for the coming year, including the upgrade and replacement of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls for the Soldotna Sports Center, repairs to the exterior of the city's police department building and repairs to city streets.

"Now, this budget balances," Boedeker said.

"I suspect it will not in three weeks if the governor vetoes line items as he said he would do," he said, referring to Gov. Frank Murkowski's possible reaction to the Legislature's rejection of a state sales tax.

"We do have a sufficient fund balance to draw on, and I'm not going to propose any increase in the mill rate," he said.

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