Blackfoot Council begins work on 2012 budget

BLACKFOOT — The Blackfoot City Council met Thursday night to conduct a work session for the 2012 budget.
Department budgets for 2012 will likely stay the same as 2011, Mayor Mike Virtue said. Most changes are the result of higher fuel costs or increases or reductions due to capital purchases made in 2011 or planned for 2012.
The preliminary administration budget for 2012 is higher than the current budget because of credit card fees and upgrades to accounting software.
The police department is seeking additional funds in 2012 to purchase three patrol cars instead of two. Chief Dave Moore said they are trying to cycle out Chevrolet Impalas that have been plagued by high maintenance costs.
An increase also appears in the police budget because of an agreement between the city and Bingham County. Virtue said the City of Blackfoot will pay Bingham County $125,000 in 2012 to pay the balance of the law enforcement contract, which provides office space, janitorial services and dispatch services.
The fire department is asking for funds to repair asphalt at the fire station and to replace worn kitchen cabinets at the station. Chief Kevin Gray is also asking to hire an individual to fill the fire marshall position to conduct inspections. Gray said the fire district will pay half of the $45,000 salary.
The planning and public works budget includes the salary for a city engineer, although the position has not been filled since October of 2009. Virtue said the salary has been left in the budget as a safeguard if the need arises for a city engineer.
There has also been a three percent merit pay increase budgeted, but as in previous years the city plans to review the budget mid-year before releasing those funds.
The City Council will meet Aug. 2 to finalize the budget. Then on Aug. 16 the final budget will be presented and a public hearing will be conducted. The 2012 fiscal year begins in October.