Bellevue balances bare bones budget
Funds found to hire fire chief
By MEGAN THOMAS
Express Staff Writer
Over the last few weeks the cash strapped
city of Bellevue has struggled to balance its projected 2005 budget. The City
Council found itself facing a deficit in light of growing demand on city
services. The lack of funds and the need to hire personnel forced the council to
consider proposals ranging from eliminating the library to cutting their own
In the end, Bellevue City Council members
decided to balance the budget by cutting street and administrative funds at the
Thursday, July 22, meeting. The council also voted to draw from savings to hire
a full-time fire chief for a year.
A public hearing for the final proposed
budget is slated for Thursday, Aug. 26.
The addition of the fire chief will
increase the 2005 budget to $852,907. The general fund includes all city
services, except sewer and water funds. The proposed budget estimates a balanced
water fund of $374,000 and a balanced sewer fund of $395,204.
The original draft of the budget estimated
the 2005 general revenues to be $14,234 shy of the projected expenses, which
elicited serious evaluation of the city’s use of funds.
The council, with Councilwoman Tammy
Schofield and Mayor John Barton absent, agreed the best option to balance the
general fund required a $8,234.97 cut to the street department budget and a
$6,000 cut from the administrative budget. The council decided to cut money
originally allocated for chip sealing, after a recommendation from Jack
Stoneback, the city administrator.
"Our streets are in good shape, we can go
another year," water, street and sewer superintendent Brian Whipple assured the
These cuts balanced the budget at $812,404
and provide for a new full time administrative position to assist the city
The council then passed a resolution to
hire Dennis Cannon as the full time Bellevue fire chief. The council approved a
$40,500 salary for the chief, including benefits, which will increase the 2005
budget from $812,404 to $852,907. The chief’s salary will be paid with monies in
a general savings fund.
The position is effective Oct. 1.
Cannon will head Bellevue’s volunteer fire
department. He has been the volunteer fire chief since October 2003. As a
volunteer, he currently works 15 to 30 hours a week, responding to calls,
reporting each run to the state, updating equipment and inspecting businesses
and restaurants for fire code compliance. With Bellevue’s rise in growth, the
council recognized the need for its first full time fire chief.
"I am here to help the city and to do
something I enjoy as well," Cannon told the council.
Cannon plans to expand his duties by
performing safety and fire inspections of businesses, reviewing construction
plans for buildings and subdivisions and recruiting more volunteers.
Questions did arise over funding the
position in the future. The council suggested that hiring the chief might
increase the chance of obtaining grants to pay for the position in years to
During earlier discussions over the
budget, the council proposed cutting library funding. The proposal elicited
strong responses from the public and the council in support of the operation.
"I am on both the street committee and the
library committee," councilwoman Joanna Ehrmantraut remarked. "I am willing to
sacrifice a little from the streets."
The balanced budget guarantees continued
The council also decided to appropriate
incoming impact funds from Bellevue’s Pine View Subdivision to the water and
savings funds. The $156,000 expected from the development will help to offset
overall impacts on the city. The council voted to allocate $100,000 of the
impact fees to the city’s water fund and $56,000 to general savings.