Sunday, February 15, 2009

Budget woes hit ACHD

Well, it's official, not that it will ever be memorialized in the Idaho Statesman who didn't bother to send anyone to the budget retreat ACHD held on Friday.

The cuts in the 2009 budget equal 10% as a result of dealing with the collapse in revenues in the first 2 quarters.

We cut $3,700,000 to make the first quarter budget true up. This was done by shaving a lot of administrative costs like supplies, uniforms, travel and training and temporary employees. A hiring freeze is on and will continue into the foreseeable future. We are also delaying buying right of way for a project that won't be constructed for a year or two - hopefully land prices will go down in this area rather than up when we're actually ready to buy the land.

And now, the news is in for the second quarter, which goes from January to March. Impact fee collections - down, down, down. Highway user's fund (gas tax) - down. Sales tax - down. Liquid tar bids (for road maintenance) is up, up, up.

The bottom line is that another $4,500,000 must be cut. Everything is basically fair game. There will be unpaid days for employees. There will be cutbacks in dues we pay to various organizations like COMPASS. Some studies will go away. Some employees who were hired to do X will end up doing Y because there is nothing to do in the X area but there is in the Y tasks.

During the budget retreat, I espoused a few principles in how the cuts should be made and I think there was general agreement from the other commissioners.

First, everyone will not take the same day off. These will be staggered so the offices will be open and the service people will still be available to the public. Services to the public should continue to occur. Streets will still be swept, snow removed, roads sanded when necessary, etc.

Second, maintenance of our existing roads and bridges is the most important thing we do. It makes no sense to build a new road while letting what we've got deteriorate and then cost more to fix in the future. Roads will be striped and overlaid with new pavement where necessary and chip sealed to extend the life of the pavement.

Third, we need to continue community programs like safe routes to school and pedestrian crosswalks.

Fourth, we need to keep signal upgrades as intact as is possible.

Fifth, new construction of capital projects will be the first to go.

It's more than likely that more cuts will happen during the summer and that the budget for next year will be very austere. It's not pleasant, but it is doable.


At February 26, 2009 at 7:46 AM , Blogger MNMAC said...

I was glad to see you deny the approval of the 5-year plan last night until the budget issues are more defined. Who can imagine moving very far forward when you don't have a good idea of the funding available. I would like to see more public input on future projects-especially unincorporated areas of the County.


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