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March 30, 2010 3:28 am

Tightening the budget

Written by Tribune Staff

City leaders need to be cautious going into budget preparation

Anticipating drearier days that may be in Wyoming's financial forecast, state legislators didn't dip into “rainy day” reserves during the recent budget session. In a wise move, lawmakers kept the state's reserves intact, ensuring that an estimated $700 million will remain in the bank when the next fiscal year starts this July.

The state's financial conservatism this session means that cities and towns across the state will receive significantly less than in years past.

For Powell, the city's direct distribution from the state will be reduced by more than $200,000 — about 40 percent less than it received the previous year. Cody also will see a reduction of around 40 percent, and Meeteetse will receive about 30 percent less.

Combined with declining sales tax revenues, the budget cuts are painful for local municipalities.

Rather than wasting time licking their wounds, however, Powell leaders are facing the reality of budget cuts as they begin prepare for the next fiscal year.

“We're not going to go around doing ‘the sky is falling' routine. We're going to see how to deal with it,” said City Administrator Zane Logan.

It's not an easy task, as city leaders must find ways to deal with less.

Though the city of Powell is faring better than others in the state, it also has difficult challenges going into the next budget session — the greatest one being the aquatic center. Without any history of operating expenses and revenues, the Powell Aquatic Center's budget is unclear. The best city leaders can do is estimate the center's budget needs, comparing it with similar facilities.

In coming weeks, as they prepare for the next fiscal year and consider the financial unknowns of the aquatic center, city leaders must be cautious and sparing as they work to balance a reduced budget.