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A $129 million pie

City Council reviews budget to be considered during June 7 meeting
By: Jake Dorsey, The Press-Tribune
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It took two days for City Council to hear the staff reports and reviews of the city's proposed 2007 fiscal budget. At $129,362,667 in general fund revenue, there is a lot to spread around, with plenty of consideration poured into what goes where. There's also the problem of it being 467 pages long. The proposed budget, presented Tuesday and Wednesday to the Council, represents more than $483 million for appropriations. Besides the money held over from the previous year, most of the money is the city's in name only - an estimated $152 million earned from public utility sales, such as electricty and water, goes right back to the utilities, city Treasurer Russ Branson said. Likewise from other city businesses, such as water, solid waste and child care, the revenue they generate goes into what are called enterprise funds. Much of it also is stuck in capital improvement projects such as Downtown Revitalization, building libraries and road improvement. "You don't mix funds," Branson said. "There's a (city) charter amendment that says you can't do that." That leaves the $129 million available for city use. However, there actually isn't much the city can simply push wherever it wants. Major services, such as law enforcement, firefighting community services take up most of the money, about $67 million. General government expenses are projected to be $29,480,648 - $116,955 short of that to be spent on law enforcement. Part of the increase in law enforcement spending comes from the hiring of two more officers, who will bring the ratio of police officers per 1,000 residents to 1.2 - a ratio police Chief Joel Neves said is ideal. "I think at that ratio it does allow us to provide the types of police services that our community, our residents would like us to provide," Neves said at the budget hearing Wednesday. Parks and Recreation is also exercising its roughly $32.2 million budget by building nine new parks in concert with developers. About $15 million of the department's budget is funded by the city, with the other money raised with park fees and other revenue. The city's recreational facilities that can count visitors received about 2.5 million visitors last year, said Mike Shellito, assistant city manager and community services director. The fire department is also slated to get relief this fiscal year, as money has been allocated for hiring 15 more firefighters - an entire battalion - to work at another fire station in West Roseville, Branson said in his budget summary Tuesday. Fire Chief Ken Wagner said Fire Station No. 7 will be in service early next year, while the battalion for it has already been hired and is housed at a temporary station. Another area of interest was the library system. Though it only receives roughly 2 percent of general fund expenditures, the library system is doing well, Branson said. Mahany Library currently under construction. "Most (cities) either have no libraries or are cutting back," Branson said. The City Council will have the budget up for public review and comment again at its 7 p.m. meeting June 7. - Jake Dorsey can be reached at jaked @goldcountrymedia.com.