SHERIDAN — The city of Sheridan, for the first time, adopted a two-year budget Monday, signaling hope for economic recovery by planning for slight increases in the general fund budget compared to the current fiscal year.
For FY2015, which begins July 1, the city budgetted for $11.2 million in general fund revenues, compared to the $10.7 million budgetted for the current year. In FY2016, the general fund budget revenues were projected at $11.3 million.
Sheridan City Clerk Scott Badley said the city adopted a five-year plan in April, and by adopting the two-year budget Monday, they put the first part of that plan into place. He added that the slight increase in the general fund budget can be attributed to sales and use taxes, building permit fees, gasoline tax collections and the earlier than expected lottery proceeds.
“The economic outlook is improving and bolstered by the recent announcements that the Decker Coal mine has rehired personnel and the pending new RAMACO coal mine are indicators of sustained modest growth,” Badley said in a budget message to the Sheridan City Council.
Highlights of the FY2015 budget, as outlined by Badley, are:
• the placement into general fund reserves a minimum of $140,000 of unassigned fund balance, which is cash available from the general fund, increasing reserves to 27 percent of general fund expenditures.
• a projected 3 percent increase in Optional One Cent Sales Tax and Capital Facilities Tax funds.
• the restriction on use for personnel of appropriated state direct distributions, which are projected at about $1.9 million.
• that building activity is expected to grow.
• that city employee pay increases during the current fiscal year carried forward, reflecting the first increase since October 2008.
The $11.2 million general fund budget is about 29 percent of the city’s total FY2015 budget of $38.6 million. The total budget includes the general fund, One-Cent Sales Tax fund, Special Revenue fund, Capital Facilities Tax fund, Water/Sewer fund, Sanitation fund, the golf course, mosquito fund and debt service.
The Sheridan City Council approved the budget unanimously Monday night after a public hearing.
In other business, the council approved on third and final reading changes to the city’s planned unit development codes.
Density has been a focus of discussions in past meetings — an attempt to ensure new developments are compatible with and have limited impact on surrounding developments.
A portion of the revised code included the phrase, “minimize the impact on adjacent properties by limiting building heights, providing screening and/or other buffers and establishing a density that is compatible with the surrounding area.”
Councilwoman Shelleen Smith raised the question of whether the word “density” is the best fit there, arguing that making a new development compatible with agricultural land around it could hinder the process.
Mayor Dave Kinskey agreed, adding that the phrase sets up “impossible circumstances” in the planning department. He noted that the inevitability of infill development is that density has to go up for costs to go down, and the city has tried multiple affordable housing initiatives such as the former Sheridan Housing Action Committee but still has an affordable housing problem.
Eventually, the council voted to eliminate the phrase completely after reassurances that the ordinance as a whole spells out what the city expects of PUD developers.