Blanding City Council approves budget for upcoming fiscal year
by David Boyle
Members of the Blanding city council approved their annual budget at their June 6 meeting. The approval comes as the city prepares for the start of the new Fiscal Year on July 1.
The approved $17.2 million budget is an increase of about $2.3 million over the $14.9 million budget in 2022.
Blanding City Manager David Johnson outlined reasons for the increase, including the city drilling a deepwater well, with millions in grants from the state aiding the project as part of the state commitment to bring running water to the Westwater community.
Johnson noted other reasons for the increased budget include rising costs of living as well as increases to costs for supplies and maintenance.
The city is also reporting an excess in general funds as they come to the end of the current fiscal year. While the city is budgeted to transfer $280,000 into capital project funds, staff is projecting around $350,000 into capital funds at the end of the fiscal year.
Among the capital projects for the upcoming fiscal year are the deep well project, the Wellness Center showers and fire suppression system, the updated general plan, remodel of Centennial Park bathrooms, Recapture boat ramp and parking, police vehicles, a UTV for snow plowing sidewalks, and other purchases.
City staff also reports that all the city enterprise funds are operating in the black.
The city is budgeting in 2024 to hire two additional employees. The approved budget includes funds for an additional city police officer using general funds and an engineering tech using city enterprise funds.
The standard Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) released by the US Social Security Administration was 8.7 percent. While the city did not match the full adjustment, city payroll did award a four percent COLA with performance-based merit raises for an average staff salary increase of 5.7 percent.
City Council member Cheryl Bowers added her support to the work of city staff.
“In years past, we’ve been very frugal with increases, that staff got the minimum they could get. I think we have amazing employees, I think we’ve been very fiscally conservative in the past on salaries and this is a year where we have funds to do it.”
Following reviews and a closed session to discuss city personnel, members of the council unanimously approved the budget.
No comments were given by members of the public as part of the June 6 public hearing.