Town of Saratoga to hold special meeting
Meeting scheduled June 11 to hold second reading of budget, budget amendment
June 10, 2020
Following the failure to pass two ordinances relating to the current and upcoming fiscal years on second reading at the June 2 Saratoga Town Council meeting, the governing body will be holding a special meeting this week. The council will also discuss an engagement letter for James Childress.
Over the past few several weeks, the Saratoga Town Council has been debating both the revenue and expenditures for Fiscal Year 2020/2021. Councilmember Jon Nelson has been expressing hesitancy at following the four-year average, citing economic downturns due to the novel coronavirus. Councilmember Bob Keel and Councilmember Judy Welton, meanwhile, have stated that they are optimistic following tourist activity over the Memorial Day weekend.
In an email sent out to the rest of the council and media on June 5, Nelson provided what he believed were realistic numbers of what to expect for revenue items such as sales and use tax, state gasoline tax and state supplemental tax. Nelson has often stated in budget workshops that he believed it would be wiser to expect revenue lower than the four-year average and, should more revenue come in than expected, budget amendments could be made to apply those funds appropriately.
In the second reading of Ordinance No. 857 on June 2, a total of $2,048,910 was listed for taxes under anticipated revenues. In the budget for Fiscal Year 2019/2020, a total of $2,620,091 was listed for taxes under anticipated revenues. The proposed amount from Nelson is $2,016,560, which appeared on the first reading of the proposed Fiscal Year 2020/2021 budget. Within that difference of $32,350 are the following line items:
• Under state sales and use tax, $497,650 is currently proposed while Nelson is proposing $485,800. This line item in the 2019/2020 budget was $628,444.
• Under state gasoline tax, $52,800 is currently proposed while Nelson is proposing $48,000. In the 2019/2020 budget, there is $61,456 under this line item.
• Under special fuel tax, which includes diesel, $17,000 is currently proposed. Nelson has proposed $15,300 and the 2019/2020 budget had $18,713 under this line item.
• Finally, in the state supplemental line item, a total of $143,000 is currently proposed while Nelson is proposing $129,000. An amount of $146,002 was listed under this line item for 2019/2020.
In a report from the Census Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) to the State of Wyoming, a decline of up to 30 percent was predicted with state sales and use tax. According to the report, $544.9 million was forecast for Fiscal Year 2020 in January, but as of May that forecast had fallen to $469.3 million, or a decline of approximately 13 percent. Similarly, the forecast for Fiscal Year 2021 had been $553.1 million in January 2020, but had fallen to $386.5 million as of May, or a decline of approximately 30 percent.
Under expenditures, Nelson is proposing to return $25,000 under the Parks Department which had been removed from the Baseball Improvements line item following the May 26 budget workshop. When that line item had been brought up during the latest budget workshop,
Nelson appeared to ask for clarification from Councilmember Bob Keel that the amount had been committed by the Town of Saratoga to the Platte Valley Little League.
“There’s no contractual commitment. The only commitment to date is they won’t have to pay for the tap fees,” said Keel at the workshop.
Other changes under expenditures included reducing payroll for Recreation Director Lisa Burton from the proposed $29,172 a year to $21,450 a year to reflect a part-time position at 25 hours a week. Additionally, the proposed amount of $4,080 for payroll benefits is reduced to $3,000 and both health insurance and pension are removed under Nelson’s proposal.
It remains to be seen if these adjustments proposed by Nelson will be incorporated into the 2020/2021 budget or if transfers proposed for the 2019/2020 budget amendment (See above article “No second for that motion”) will be included as well.
The review of an engagement letter for Childress, which will also be discussed at the special meeting, comes following Nelson’s objection to a payment of approximately $8,400 to the third-party accountant at the June 2 meeting.
Under Wyoming State Statute 16-4-404(b), no other business than what is included in public notice of a special meeting shall be discussed or considered.
The special meeting of the Saratoga Town Council will be at 5 p.m. on June 11 at Saratoga Town Hall.