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Gas tax bumps up city public works budget

SHERIDAN — The city of Sheridan managed and maintained 125 miles of streets, 13 miles of pathways, 580 acres of parks and open space, 26,915 rounds of golf, three elk and three buffalo in fiscal year 2013.

Those numbers reflect why streets, snow removal, the service shop and parks and cemetery budgets comprise 72 percent of the public works department budget, and why public works comprises 29 percent of the budget for the general fund, according to a presentation by Public Works Director Nic Bateson at the city budget discussion Monday.

Fiscal Year 2014 budgets for streets, snow removal, the service shop and parks and cemetery are up compared to 2013, but much of the increase will be paid for with supplemental funds and the increased gas tax, city Treasurer Jennifer Reed said.

The streets department budget saw the largest increase. It is up $594,500 from last year, with a budget total of $2,218,406. The general fund portion of the increase is nearly $11,000, while supplemental funds will cover the rest of the increase in the budget. Supplemental funds will be used for street lighting and purchase of machinery and equipment.

“There’s additional revenue that’s going to come in as a result of the gas tax increase,” Bateson said. “That revenue is explicitly identified within our city code that it has to go to street maintenance, and so those funds will go into the street maintenance program and allow us to continue to prioritize maintaining our streets and maintaining the snow removal activities for our streets.”

The snow removal budget for 2013 ($169,311) ended up being nearly $100,000 too low for snow removal operations last winter. Due to the amount of freezing and thawing cycles, more ice melting product had to be applied than expected, Bateson said. For that reason, the city budgeted an extra $57,980 for snow removal in fiscal year 2014.

Mayor Dave Kinskey also said he’d like to explore the possibility of starting a snow removal reserve fund so that money not used in drier winters can be saved for more severe winters that require more snow removal.

The parks and cemetery budgets were also increased for 2014, though much of the increase ($170,000 of the total $172,040 increase) are supplemental funds to be used for supplies and capital outlay for improvements and purchase of machinery and equipment.

“The cemetery has been pushed off for a long time,” Bateson said. “The street condition, the muddy streets, and also the general operation of the cemetery, having accurate and consistent records, is something that needs to be prioritized, so that’s a part of the request for those funds.”

Key goals for the streets, snow removal and parks and cemetery divisions of the public works department include chip sealing 15 miles of city roads, maintaining alleyways, stream enhancements in the parks and improvements to the cemetery that will include GPS mapping of grave sites and restoring historic sections being damaged by tree roots. The city also hopes to reach a 75 percent street classification for street maintenance using the Pavepro Program.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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