The Belgrade City Council unanimously approved the final budget for next fiscal year Tuesday evening, and number crunchers are saying the city is “stronger” and in “decent shape,” though more will be revealed when water and sewer needs are addressed in the coming months.
Property assessments from the state showed values raised 6.4 percent for 2019, according to city records.
“Considered with the value of new construction, this produces adequate funding for current city operations,” City Manager Ted Barkley wrote in an Aug. 31 report.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in Belgrade that the city is burgeoning. With growth comes a greater demand for services, according to Barkley, and to do so requires more people.
“This is a significant component of the proposed budget,” the city manager told the council.
The city hired a full-time prosecutor supported by one staff member and rent in the Mercantile building, according to city records. A part-time human resource officer is also on tap. Public Works will add two people in 2018 and two more in 2019. There are also three new police officers and two new code enforcement officers.
Also, department heads will received a 3 percent pay increase and staffers will get a 6 percent raise, according to budget figures. Police pay is also up as part of the city’s effort to pay 90 percent of what Bozeman Police receive to Belgrade cops. This year meets that goal.
The one issue on the horizon is the city’s need to upgrade its water and wastewater facilities which are at its limit, Barkley said. Rates will go up as part of a loan requirement with the state along with higher impact fees for developers. The budget will need to be amended at a later date to satisfy the hike.
“We want to shield existing rate payers as much as possible,” Barkley told the council.
There are also considerations on increases for the Street Maintenance Levy “to provide a higher level of maintenance, including improved weed control and snow removal.”
Barkley is predicting a 35.7 percent unbudgeted reserve in the General Fund.