On The Agenda: Kalispell Firefighter Funding, Whitefish Budget

By Beacon Staff

Kalispell City Council meets tonight at 7 p.m. to tackle three issues:

–The council will vote to allow city employees to pay bills as the 2008-2009 fiscal year begins July 1. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for July 21.

–Council must decide whether it will provide matching funds for a federal grant that would allow for the hiring of three new city firefighters. Acting Fire Chief Dan Diehl has coordinated a request for three additional firefighters through the SAFER grant program of the Department of Homeland Security. In his report to the council, Diehl wrote that the Kalispell Fire Department “is faced with a major staffing shortage,” as community growth outpaces the city’s budgeting ability to add additional staff. This grant, Diehl added, would be the quickest way to bolster staffing at the department if the city will match the federal funds.

–Council will vote on a resolution approving a construction agreement with the state for improvements to the intersection of Woodland Avenue and Second Street East.

The Whitefish City Council is holding a special meeting tonight to discuss and take public comment on the city’s proposed fiscal year 2008-2009 budget.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m., with the goal of tentatively approving the budget by night’s end.

Total budget appropriations equal $28.56 million, roughly an increase of $666,500 from last year’s adopted budget. Part of that total, however, is attributed to inter-fund transfers, so the total effective budget is closer to $24.5 million.

The city’s operating budget, as proposed, is around $14.57 million.

An economic slowdown, most notably in the real estate market, has had considerable impact on the budget, City Manager Gary Marks said in his budget message to city councilors. The result is a $120,000 decrease in the general fund from last year, a shortage that will be compensated for through the reduction – or freezing – of transfer funds to agencies such as law enforcement, fire and rescue, and parks recreation.

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