Comparing the differences between the current preliminary budget and the preliminary budget from the same time last year — which City Clerk and Finance Director Lowell Swenson said was virtually unchanged from what was implemented — a few fairly large differences are obvious, particularly in the city’s largest departments.
Mayor Tim Solomon and Swenson said that cuts were made to the departments based on the size of their requested budget, so that those who received the most funds would also receive the most cuts.
The Havre Police Department, in the proposed budget, would receive $1,343,975 for 2012, up a little more than $12,000 from 2011 when the department was allotted $1,331,470.
When broken up, it appears most of the increase comes from hikes in salary and wages, from $736,370 to $760,060, and medical and dental insurance coverages, from $161,200 to $195,760. These, together with a $27,000 cut in local grant matching, represent the biggest changes for this department this year.
For the Havre Fire Department, the budget this year is looking to end up around $10,000 less than it was last year, from $422,790 in 2011 to $412,900 this year.
The biggest shifts here come from the loss of a $20,000 machinery and equipment sum and the addition of nearly $14,000 in spending on health and dental insurance.
The smallest of the budgets from the administrative section of the city’s big three departments, Public Works, could end up with the greatest difference between this year and last.
Falling from $104,450 to $84,710 for the upcoming year comes largely from cuts in wages, with $7,170, and medical and dental insurance, more than halving from around $12,400 to $5,670, though other cuts helped.
Other sections within Public Works are also seeing cuts, including street maintenance, street construction and the water plant’s supply and pumping division.
Street maintenance could see $23,400 less, from $442,325 to $418,925.
Street construction budgeting could fall even further, from $552,165 to $382,044.
The water plant’s supply and pumping section could drop from $994,470 to $939,080. Despite the $55,000 drop, the amount set aside to buy chemicals is budgeted to go up $59,000, from $268,000 to $327,000, which may help with cleansing the Milk River’s contents.
Swenson said that the cuts had to be made to the city’s budget for a few reasons this year.
For one, he said he didn’t know why, but the tax collections coming in from the county were just not as high as they used to be.
Another reason he explained was the legislature changing the way it distributed funding. Where the state had usually raised the amount given to the city by 3 percent a year, this past session saw that raise frozen for the next two years.
He also said that the city had ended up about $200,000 short of where they anticipated being in certain funds, including the general fund and ambulance fund.
A public hearing to discuss this preliminary budget was set at Monday night’s Havre City Council meeting for Tuesday, Aug. 30 at 7 p. m. at City Hall.
City wants to use the Web, but can’t
During Monday’s Havre City Council meeting, the budget discussion turned to the city’s presence on the Internet.
As the council talked about the public hearing scheduled for 7 p. m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, to receive community input, council member Janet Trethewey asked how people could see the budget and asked if it would be posted online.
City Clerk Lowell Swenson said it would not be online, but that people could come to City Hall and ask to see a copy of the budget to look over. This morning he clarified why.
“We don’t have the capability at this time, ” Swenson said. “We really don’t have a formal Internet person or anything. One of our people just does it kind of when she has time. ”
The Havre Daily News purchased copies of the preliminary budgets for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. Digital copies can be found here: