Kalispell Approves 2010-2011 Preliminary Budget

By Beacon Staff

The Kalispell City Council unanimously approved the preliminary budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year at its June 28 meeting, setting a public hearing on the budget for July 19.

The preliminary budget show’s Kalispell’s finances beginning to stabilize, with a cash reserve forecast to rise to $655,179 by the end of the fiscal year, up from $244,122 just two years prior. The general fund for fiscal year 2011 will be $9,072,078, making up about one-fifth of the total budget, which includes enterprise funds, capital projects and special revenue, of $45,695,789.

The council must vote on the preliminary budget prior to beginning of the fiscal year on July 1, so city departments can continue to operate. Then the council can opt to make changes following the public hearing. In August, the Finance Department makes final budget changes due to carryovers and revised estimates, and the state Department of Revenue provides Kalispell with its taxable values by Aug. 10. The council is scheduled to vote on the final budget at its second meeting in August.

At the June 28 meeting, Councilman Bob Hafferman introduced a successful amendment that limited the city government to spending only on salaries, maintenance and operations already approved by council during the period between the passage of the preliminary and final budget.

Hafferman said he trusted city officials, but felt the amendment was necessary given actions of the previous full-time city manager.

“Jim Patrick overstepped his bounds and I know the present city manager isn’t going to do that,” Hafferman said.

Not a single member of the public was present June 28 to comment on the approval of the city budget, though a grant to study future options for the improvement of the city airport, included in the budget, has drawn critics at prior meetings.