For the past several weeks, Kanab City has shared information about the challenges and opportunities the mayor and city council faces, as we prepare the city budget for the upcoming year. I want to personally thank all those who have provided their input. Your suggestions and sentiments have had a major impact on our budget process.

Kanab City’s final budget won’t be passed until June 22 and you will have opportunities to provide additional input at a public meeting on June 22. Since our final budget hasn’t been adopted, I don’t know what will be included in the final document. However, I want to update you with some of our most recent discussion in response to your recommendations.

1. We learned the current health insurance benefit provided to our employees is much more expensive than is necessary. We are considering a new alternative that offers our employees outstanding healthcare, but will save the city about $50,000 a year.

2. We reviewed three one-time capital projects for which we are receiving more than $1,000,000 in support from state and federal agencies. The projects involve our airport, the Kanab Creek Bridge and improvements to our water system. We were scheduled to provide a large cash match from our current budget for these projects. 

We are exploring the potential for borrowing funds for our portion of these projects, which will spread our costs over several years. If we choose to do so, we should be able to cut back on the amount we need to collect from our citizens in new taxes and fees.  

3. We are finding state and federal laws may require we budget more than planned for training, especially in public safety related areas. City Manager Duane Huffman is evaluating this issue and will report to us on his findings within the next few days.

4. Though the tentative budget included an overall reduction of 9% for our city departments, we are still fine-tuning exactly how this will occur. We need to be cautious that these cuts do not threaten the safety of the community or create a situation where we end up paying more in the long run by deferring basic maintenance.  

5. We have a difficult challenge with our Fire Department. Recently our fire insurance rating was reviewed for the first time in many, many years. The result of the review was our city’s rating may be somewhat worse than in the past if we do not make a few changes.

For example, we need to be doing annual fire inspections for our businesses, but have not been adequately staffed to do so. Our discussions involve whether it is appropriate to increase the fire department’s budget to address our shortcomings, at a time when other departments are being asked to sacrifice and when our citizens may be asked to pay new taxes or fees.

6. We reviewed the amount of money donated to various projects within the community that are not sponsored by the city.  We were a little surprised at what we were spending on initiatives that were desirable, but not essential at a time of budget shortfall.  It looks like we will be cutting back on almost all of these donations.

With these items and the information provided in previous articles, we have now shared the most significant of the issues Kanab City is facing. This is likely the last article we will post until after the final budget is passed, unless something new comes to light. With your help, I believe we will pass a final budget that will be very tight.

However, due to the nation’s continuing poor economy, the new budget will also likely place some additional financial burden on our citizens.

I am confident we have identified strategies to limit this impact. Please mark our open meeting on June 22 on your calendar, since we continue to need your input.  I’ll report back after the final budget has been passed. Thanks again for your support.