Jun 25, 2017 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterThe Riverton City Council has finalized its $26 million budget last for fiscal year 2017-2018, after two months spent ensuring balanced finances in municipal accounts.
"The City of Riverton prides itself on being fiscally responsible and living within our means," interim city administrator Court-ney Bohlender said.
"At times it has not been easy, but I can tell you that over the last seven years we have implemented several cost containment measures that helped us sustain our positive financial position."
Bohlender said the transparent and collaborative process consisted of several meetings among employees and elected officials to discuss budget planning, personnel planning, and capital project planning.
Most line items remained constant except for a move to re-establish merit raises, a cost-of-living-adjustment, the health insurance increase and on-call pay, Bohlender continued.
No merit raises
She noted that no employee received a merit raise this fiscal year.
"If they did well they were not rewarded financially," she said, explaining that merit raises are based on performance.
Forty percent of municipal employees have "topped out" of the merit raise system, Bohlender added. Those individuals who have been employed by the city for 10 years or more no longer receive merit raises, so the only way they can get an increase in pay is through a COLA.
"Hence, we re-implemented the merit system at a cost of $175,000, implemented a COLA for an approximate cost of $123,000, (and) implemented on-call pay for five divisions which added up to $18,200," Bohlender said.
In addition, the employee and employer both absorbed the health insurance increase of 4 percent or approximately $55,000, she said.
The balanced budget doesn't mean the city hasn't suffered "severe shortfalls" similar to the county and state, Bohlender said; instead, the city lowered its revenue projections in a "very conservative" manner.
About six or seven years ago the city would project receiving $3.1 million in sales and use taxes, she explained, while projections are now closer to about $2.2 million in sales and use taxes.
Attrition also provided the city with big savings. Last year the city saved more than $400,000 when it didn't immediately replace employees who retired or left for other reasons. In some cases, the positions weren't filled at all.
Bohlender listed other cost containment measures, such as no overtime on holiday pay, decreased monies for purchasing supplies, maintaining central purchasing throughout all divisions, a decrease in travel and training opportunities, and no replacement of vehicles.
"It has been difficult, and our employees remained customer service oriented and dedicated," she said.
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