City passes $13.5 million budget
POLSON – All four members of the commission who attended the regular meeting voted to approve the budget for the next fiscal year.
The budget estimates the city will bring in $12.5 million and spend $13.5 million in fiscal year 2020. According to the document, the city will make up the difference in income and expenses by using reserve funds from past years. The city will retain a reserve fund of about 16 percent.
The city will run 142.2 mills for the general fund, 13.7 mills for the permissive levy fund and 19.95 mills for the police municipal levy fund. The city will send 175.98 mills to the county.
Water and sewer projects included in the budget in response to the city’s strategic plan were among the areas that were allotted the most funds. A new well house will be built and well number eight will be connected to the city’s system for a cost of $600,000 in the coming fiscal year. It is estimated that the full cost of the project will be $1 million. The project will be completed with funds from the fiscal year 2021 budget.
The city budgeted $1,825,00 for an update to the city’s sewer lines. The project will be funded with a combination of local funds, grant funds and loans.
The budget document states that in the future the city hopes to develop a wage scale for all city employees. The city will likely model this system on the existing salary scale for police officers. Commissioner Brodie Moll commented that he agreed with the plan.
Concerning the approved budget, Cindy Dooley, city finance manager, said an unexpected change had already occurred. After the budget was finalized, the city heard that the proposed road repairs near Stutzman’s Furniture on Second Street East would cost $15,000 to $16,000 more than the city had allotted for the project. Dooley advised the commissioners to approve the budget as it read and then amend the budget when the additional funds were needed.
This year, the Tax Increment Finance District was awarded $205,921. That’s more than double the amount the city had in that fund last year. TIFD funds are reserved from taxes paid by residents of blighted areas in the city and can be used to improve those areas in need of development.
At the same meeting, interim city manager Wade Nash shared a legal opinion that concluded that commissioner Stephen Turner did not have a conflict of interest in a vote that was taken at the previous meeting. Turner voted against an amendment to the city’s development code that would have restricted development of multiple- family dwellings in some areas of the city.
Turner has a construction business in the Polson area. Nash said a commissioner told him he or she thought Turner should have been excluded from the vote because he had an interest in promoting development in town for his benefit. City attorney Clint Fischer wrote that Turner’s involvement in the construction industry did not disqualify him from the vote. Fischer wrote that if Turner had been hired to complete construction on the project prior to the vote then he would have been disqualified. Because Turner was not involved in the project at the time of the vote, he did not have a conflict of interest.