By Jayson Knight
Tuttle City Manager Dana Schoening is currently in the process of building the city’s budget for the upcoming year. Still in the middle of the process, Schoening will bring the budget before the council soon. The city manager weighed in on the currently disappointing economy the country is facing, and spoke about how it could affect the city’s budget for next year.
“The economy is something we have to be mindful of when we’re putting together that budget,” Schoening said Friday. “It’s inflation, it’s up there, and so we kind of anticipated that that would be the case this year, the current year that we’re in, but we know that it’s going to continue into the next year. We have to keep that in mind when we are looking at the budget and deciding what we might be able to do as far as projects, or even what we think we’ll receive through forecasted revenue projections.”
Those revenue projections have trended downward in the last couple of years, thanks in large part to the rising cost of fuel, utilities, and just about everything else.
“We’re still in the middle of looking at the revenue projections,” Schoening said. “I think that they’re probably about the same, maybe a little bit under from last year. Now, that being said, I think we’ve got a couple new businesses that hopefully will contribute in positive ways to sales tax as we get into the next year. I think that it’s probably about the same as what we looked at last year. Until we’ve really looked at it a little bit further, it’s hard to say one way or another. I guess the answer really is that we have to be conservative moving into the next year.”
The city manager agreed that anybody who’s putting together a budget right now has probably got that same mindset.
“I would say whether it’s a public budget, or even a private home budget, all of the costs have just gone up significantly, no matter what it is, and so you get a little bit less per dollar than you did a few years back,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate and hopefully that’ll turn around. We’re hoping, of course, that it will. I wish I had a good forecast there when it would actually turn around.”
Despite the abysmal economy, it will not jeopardize the City of Tuttle’s ability to provide its core services, such as its fire department, police department, emergency management, and more.
“As we go through this,” Schoening said, “there’s no lessening of service. We’ll be able to continue to provide the public safety services at the levels that they need to be, and that would be, of course, your EMS, and certainly police, and other areas too. It’s a matter of making sure that number one, what we’re budgeting, we can do. Do we have the right resources, staffing, and so forth to continue those programs? When we look at what we’re going to do, we have to take care, and take a look at that as well. I don’t anticipate any downturn in what we have provided. I think adjustments can be made along the way, as the year progresses, but I don’t anticipate that it’s going to be a real significant drop. I think because we’re at the point of putting that budget together, we just want to continue what we have. That’s the goal and I don’t anticipate that there’s going to be anything lessening at all for what we provide at this point.”
As far as the major projects Tuttle citizens can expect within the next year, Schoening said, “We will continue with completing the wastewater treatment plant. That is projected sometime in the beginning of the year, so that’ll be a continuing project. We will have to convert our water treatment system a little bit to take into account some additional water that we’ll be receiving from a contract that we have with the City of Newcastle. It has allowed us to bring in an adequate amount of water for every season that we have. It’s all different, based on spring, summer, fall and winter, so we have to convert our system a little bit. That’ll be a little bit of a cost to do that to make sure that we change accordingly. Other than that, we’ll continue doing our street overlay, and other street projects, working to seek grant dollars as a match, what might be available from ODOT for instance. We will work to make sure that we’re applying so that we can supplement our budget here to continue street projects as necessary. Other than that, I think we’ll continue moving ahead with the same type of projects that we’ve had. We don’t know where the growth is going to occur, from a residential subdivision standpoint. If there are new subdivisions that are going to move forward with platting, and where they’re going to put in the infrastructure, then we’ll extend our natural gas system and our fiber system into those subdivisions as needed. That’s important. We just don’t know. The economy will probably have a say about how that development’s going to go this year, but we’re poised to extend our systems as we need to.”