City unveils $4.8 million budget

Published on Thu, Oct 23, 2008 by ara Nelson

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City unveils $4.8 million budget

By Tara Nelson

Closing the Blaine airport will cost nearly $3 million in lease termination settlements, state grant repayments and reimbursements to the city’s general fund, according to estimates in the City of Blaine’s 2009 proposed general fund budget.

If a pending $6.4 million sale between the city and two Blaine developers goes through, the money will be used to pay approximately $390,000 in state grant repayments, $1.2 million in lease terminations, $750,000 in loans paid through the city’s general fund, and nearly $500,000 to the city’s street improvement fund, Blaine finance director Meredith Riley said.

The remaining $3.8 million will be transferred to the city’s general fund reserve account, which was established to serve as a rainy-day fund in tough economic times.

The $4.8 million budget, released last week, showed that revenues are down by 1.4 percent from last year, and recommends cutting a building inspector position, reducing training for all departments, and eliminating the city’s fire marshal position, which is currently contracted through the Northwest Fire & Rescue District.

New items would include a new police car, two patrol bicycles, a half-time court clerk position and new accounting software to be paid over a five-year period.

Other items include proposed storm water improvements, upgrades to the city library as well as new carpet, windows and restroom improvements to city hall.

General fund revenues come mainly from utility taxes, sales tax and inter-fund transfers.

Riley said even though the current financial crisis hasn’t hit Blaine as hard as other surrounding areas, the council will move to review the city’s financial information each month as opposed to quarterly, if the budget is approved.

This would help the city stay on top of changes in revenue or expenses, she said.

“The future is so unpredictable,” she said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen and we just want to stay on top of things. That way we can make adjustments in a better time frame.”

City council voted 5-0 last June to sell the 32 acres of industrially-zoned airport land to Gateway LLC, a joint venture between TC Trading owner Tom Hayes and Blaine dentist Patrick Rooney, if the details of an environmental review are favorable for the buyers.

The council will discuss the issue at their next regular meeting. The complete budget is available by visiting www.cityofblaine.com. Click on council. For more information, call 332-8311.