October 2021 Pierre Mayor's Report
For more than a decade, I’ve worked on local government budgets. They aren’t always fun; at times, they could even be painful. But I’m pleased to say the 2022 budget planning season was a good one!
At last week’s commission meeting, we approved a $57 million budget. With those funds we are able to improve infrastructure in the community (we included an extra $1 million for street projects), get staff the equipment it needs to operate efficiently, and continue to provide quality service to our community members.
That’s all happening without raising wastewater or electrical rates! You might remember, we are raising water rates as part of the drinking water treatment facility project. You might also remember, that increase was approved by voters and required by the state funding used for the project.
But more importantly, this means our revenues are covering our expenses! It doesn’t mean we’re sitting on a pot of gold, but it does mean we’re not sacrificing new equipment for operational expenses. It means our current needs are being met.
Since becoming Mayor, I have asked the team to take a conservative approach to the budget process and to focus on infrastructure, equipment, and buildings. It has worked out really well. With that goal we are modernizing all of utilities –drinking water, wastewater, and electric. We are making significant headway on street upgrades. We’re giving a boost to community assets that have fallen into disrepair. You’ll notice much of that work in our park systems where facilities, including the outdoor pool, are being replaced or repaired. And we have returned our reserves to a healthy state.
Aiding in those improvements and positive outlook has been our local spending and sales tax receipts. We saw those jump considerably this year. I think a significant piece of that can be attributed to the shop local commitment we realized during the pandemic. By allowing businesses to stay open, we allowed our community to keep progressing. We also received some one-time pandemic related funding from the federal government that provided us with additional confidence to keep projects pushing forward.
Prudent financial planning paired with healthy sales tax returns and one-time funding gave us the financial resources we needed. But that’s just one piece necessary to complete the budget. For the last couple of years, we have taken a different approach with our budget process as well. Rather than a top-down approach, we have our departments prioritize their needs. This helps ensure the full commission understands what our team needs to efficiently and effectively do their jobs.
We are ending 2021 on solid financial footing, and 2022 looks to bring more of the same!