by Mayor Tammy
Each year, the City of Meridian prepares and implements an annual budget, accounting for how it will use its financial resources to best provide for the needs of Meridian’s citizens. As part of this collaborative process, I recently joined the City Council, Finance Department, and department heads in a two-day thorough and systematic review of the proposed 2013 budget. This was a critical step for the city departments as they outlined their needs in the coming year in order to continue to provide the residents of Meridian with the services they have grown to expect.
More than just a bundle of spreadsheets, the City’s budget serves many vital purposes. It is a policy document, an operations guide, a financial plan, and a communication device. And because we value transparency in all that we do, we also use the budget to inform and educate you – our most important stakeholders – about the City’s structure, achievements, challenges, and direction.
Fortunately, Meridian is faring remarkably well during a tough economy. That remains true today because of the fiscally conservative, disciplined spending philosophy of “living within our means” that has served us well in the past and will carry us into the future. Through this process the last few years we have been and remain realistic about what we can afford, focusing funding on our core priorities, and saving for tomorrow’s needs.
The 2013 budget will keep the city on the right financial track. We will continue to connect our community with pathways providing the public with needed alternatives to move from point a to point b. Work will persist at Settlers Park as we take steps, although smaller than originally anticipated, to complete the vision for this amenity. The public safety training facility that has been saved for over the last several years will begin to move forward.
In addition, we will see many projects to maintain and improve our water and sewer systems. This will include a new ground reservoir, a water main replacement on Meridian Road, numerous well treatment and expansion projects, and several sewer line replacement and extensions.
These enhancements are not being presented in a vacuum. Rather projects like these make up the City’s CIP or Capital Improvement Plan, which lays out our vision for enhancements over the next five and ten years. It provides guidance and clarity to the departments and City Council about where they are headed so that these projects are known in advance before they are presented which keeps everyone focused and on track.
We have put into place the same cautious, conservative approach for the 2013 budget that has served us well for many years as a community – growing where we need to and holding the line or reducing where we don’t. Now, as we focus on meeting the long-term priorities of our citizens with the resources that we have, it is important we are not delaying or passing on budget issues for future City Councils as doing so would only make issues worse in the future.
Additionally, as a City we have certain unknown issues in the future which we may be required to fund or would impact our funding in the future. These items include providing a court in Meridian, paying dispatch fees to Ada County, and potential revenue reduction based upon anticipated legislation in 2013 concerning personal property tax.
For all these reasons we have asked City Council to provide a budget which includes a 3% property tax increase to the City’s base budget. To not do so would be doing a disservice to each person who lives in our community. We need to put Meridian first in our budget process to ensure the city is reflective of the values of the Meridian citizens and we have sound decisions in how we are governing.
An important part of keeping transparency in this process is citizen participation. I encourage your involvement in this year’s public hearings on the budget. You can access and review the City’s proposed 2013 budget online at www.meridiancity.org. You are also welcome to comment on it either in writing through our City Clerk’s Office and in person at our public budget hearing scheduled for August 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm at City Hall.
Through our actions, I believe our community will remain strong and financially secure as we continue fighting crime, improving neighborhoods, growing our economy, planning for the future, and streamlining the way we do business.