Valley Grande OK’s budget

Published 11:57 pm Friday, September 21, 2012

VALLEY GRANDE — It’s official. The Valley Grande not only approved their budget for next year, but approved the largest budget in the young city’s history.

Valley Grande Mayor Tom Lee said the city projected a total income and available reserve of $819,425 for next years budget. However, projected expenses total $692,500, leaving a $126,925 surplus.

It also comes at a time when the city’s leadership is going through a complete turnover. Recent municipal elections, combined with decisions by most incumbents not to seek re-election, have left the new council with just one incumbent and a new mayor.

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“We’re actually in really good shape right now financially,” Lee said as he prepares to leave office in November.

One of the most significant allocations accomplished in the budget, Lee said, was designating $15,000, which will go toward paying the volunteer fire department for responses.

“That’s kind of a unique situation,” Lee said. “Even though they’re volunteer firemen, we’re one of the few cities that have actually determined that it’s legal for us to pay them a minimum amount and they can still maintain their volunteer status.”

In other areas of the budget, Lee said the city increased donations to the school, which he felt was important to do.

Lee added the next council will have options for what to with the surplus money.

“The surplus money has the option of being put in to savings to increase our savings account or put in reserve for future projects that might require more than one years worth of surplus and one years worth of allocation,” Lee said.

Since an entirely new city council will take office November, Lee said it was important to the current council to leave the city in good financial standings.

“They may come up with, in this next year, another program they think would be good for Valley Grande,” Lee said. “So they’ll certainly have some money to do that.”

An ongoing project, which was included in the budget, was a plan to improve the city’s sewer system.

“We have an ongoing capital improvement program to upgrade our sewer system,” Lee said, and added that $256,000, which was left over from a grant, will be available to continue that project.

“I think the new council is going to have the ability to come up with some new ideas and actually have the funds to be able to accomplish them,” Lee said.

Lee also encouraged residents to attend council meetings to offer their input.

“People should really attend the meetings and actually have some input,” he said. “I think this new council will be looking to see exactly what the public would like to see happen.”