Soldotna to make budget adjustments

Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Cutting costs doesn't always mean saving money.

The Soldotna City Council tonight will vote on a budget that proposes cuts to city departments while actually increasing the city's overall bottom line.

That unfortunate bit of budget reality is largely due to factors out of the city's control, including cuts by the state to the amount it shares with local municipalities and increases to how much the city pays in insurance and retirement costs.

This year's budget is approximately $246,772 larger than last year's. However, because of an increase of roughly $223,232 to the city's insurance costs coupled with a more than $250,000 drop in state revenues it actually calls for small cuts to a number of city departments.

According to Soldotna Finance Director Marti Wilkinson, the cuts don't include any to major city projects. Rather, she said last week, the city administration has asked department managers to find ways to save money wherever they can.

"Everybody is being asked to tighten their belts," she said.

The proposed general fund budget for next year is $6,423,483, and includes funding for the bulk of city services, including administration of city buildings, the police department, public works, planning and zoning, the mayor and council, finance, administration, city building official, the library and maintenance of city streets.

This year's budget will force the city to run slightly in the red, as it calls for a draw on the city's general fund in the amount of $118,679. However, both the city's sales tax and property tax rates are scheduled to remain at their current levels.

The numbers don't spell any impending doom for the city. Soldotna currently maintains a healthy savings account, and sales tax figures actually are expected to increase by roughly $100,000 over the year.

Anyone wishing to check any specific budget programs before tonight's meeting can view the entire budget document at the city's Web site at www.ci.soldotna.ak.us.



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