With little debate and nothing controversial to discuss, the Soldotna City Council unanimously passed the city's fiscal year 2005 annual budget at Wednesday's council meeting.
According to City Manager Tom Boedeker, the budget discussion went smoothly, as the council and administration already had ironed out the document's quirks in previous work sessions.
"Nothing came up that was controversial," Boedeker said Friday.
That's perhaps because the council had very few options when it came to formulating this year's plan.
Because of increases to the city's employee retirement and insurance costs, Soldotna was forced to draft a budget that calls for a deficit of more than $100,000. However, Boedeker said cost increases for insurance and retirement alone were even more than that.
"That was well over 200 grand worth right there," he said.
Also Wednesday, the council voted to keep the city's property tax rate at 1.65 mills, or $165 per $100,000 in assessed property value.
Because the city's tax rates stayed the same, coupled with the cost increases, Boedeker said the city was forced to make a draw on its general fund balance despite the fact that nearly every city department had its overall operating expenses cut in some way.
"We're just watching the bottom line very carefully," Boedeker said.
Most of the cuts, Boedeker said, were to areas where administration normally figures in costs for unforeseen expenses throughout the year. Even though the city will be operating in the red this year, Boedeker noted that Soldotna still has a healthy savings account and is doing well financially.
"This year we tightened things down," he said.
In other action Wednesday, the council:
Authorized the sale of city-owned land at 307 Tyee St. to Central Peninsula Health Centers Inc.
Voted to support the construction of a fiber optic cable from Anchorage to Kodiak with access to the Kenai Peninsula.
Authorized the acceptance of a grant from the state of Alaska for homeland security.
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