Blackfoot council approves budget

BLACKFOOT — The Blackfoot City Council approved the budget for the 2012 fiscal year, set to begin Oct. 1. The council passed the budget on a 4-1 vote Tuesday night.
The total amount budgeted for 2012 is $14.57 million. The amount decreased slightly due to a decline in the short-term disability rate, resulting in decreases across city departments.
The budgeted amount is higher than 2011, when $13.9 million was budgeted. The increase are primarily due to one-time funds or projects that are included in the budget but will be paid with enterprise funds or carryover balances and will not affect taxes.
Those costs include a payment to the Environmental Protection Agency for a 2003 project, payment to Bingham County on the law enforcement contract, a grant for a police officer and upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant.
Councilman Chris Jensen said he has gone over the budget and has found nowhere to cut without cutting positions.
"We're as good as I think we can get this year," Jensen said, noting the council has made every attempt to keep the budget flat for the past three years.
The city will continue to collect $3.3 million in taxes, and Mayor Mike Virtue said property owners should see little change in their tax bills.
Councilman Robert Layton cast the dissenting vote.
Also at the meeting, Virtue announced the city has joined the Idaho Independent Intergovernmental Authority, a self-funded medical insurance cooperative comprised of Idaho cities. Blackfoot is one of the four largest cities to join, bringing the total number of employees covered by the insurance cooperative to 728.