Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Mark Dykes
Assistant Editor 

Town prepares to use nearly $900,000 in savings

 


The Thermopolis Town Council is currently working in the process of approving its budget for the fiscal year 2016-17, having already approved the budget on the first reading.

Looking at the General Fund itself, there is $2,596,160 total revenue, with $3,491,642 in expenditures. This results in a net loss of $895,482; that same amount must be used from savings in order to balance the budget.

Mayor’s Assistant Fred Crosby explained typically Clerk/Treasurer Tracey Van Heule tries to be a bit on the conservative side when it comes to totaling revenue. Around December or January, he said, if it looks like “the rug might be pulled out from underneath us,” there are efforts to be a bit more judicious on expenditures.

Van Heule noted in any given year the combination of sales tax and one cent taxes might vary over $200,000 one way or the other. Crosby commended Van Heule on the work she does for the budget, but said it can be an estimate on both the expenditures and the revenue, but there is more control when it comes to expenditures.

Regarding the Enterprise Fund, which covers Water, Sewer and Sanitation, the estimated Water Depreciation Reserve Fund balance as of June 2016 is $600,000. Anticipated water revenues are $904,950, bringing the total estimated balance to $1,504,950. Expenditures are estimated at $1,076,400, meaning the remainder as Water cash reserve would be $428,550.

The Sewer Depreciation Reserve Fund balance as of June is $700,000. Anticipated revenues are $270,000, with the total estimated balance at $970,000. Estimated expenditures are $95,250, leaving $874,750 as reserve.

Sanitation and Landfill Depreciation Fund balance as of June is $250,000. Anticipated revenues are $141,600, with a total estimated balance of $391,600. Estimated expenditures are $36,000, leaving $355,600 as reserve.

Crosby noted the Enterprise Fund is a bit easier to predict, based on the current year. He further explained there are fixed costs when it comes to water, such as personnel and the chemicals used. However, there are also variables like how much water is used. Depending on the moisture received, water use could fluctuate greatly.

Also taken into consideration are the federal regulations. If they should suddenly change — say, to allow only a specific number of particulates per million — the Town has to comply.

Electrical costs vary, Crosby noted, but they have never gone down. He and Van Heule pointed out they have an old plant.

Rate increases are the result of base costs, Van Heule said. Crosby added they could set a higher base rate and make water virtually free, but that’s not fair to those who use little water, and overly advantageous to those who use a lot. The same could be said for Sewer and Sanitation.

The goal is to try to break even or have as little variance as possible.

As for having to get a little tighter with expenditures, Crosby said there could be some negative feedback, particularly when it comes to salaries and benefits.

Both Crosby and Van Heule expressed appreciation to the various department heads for being accommodating as changes come around.

 

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