Helena passes budget for 2015-2016

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The city of Helena has approved its annual budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. (File)

The city of Helena has approved its annual budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. (File)

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–The members of the Helena City Council unanimously approved the 2015-2016 budget for the city with a projected revenue of $7.3 million for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The council and department heads have discussed the budget for several weeks before finally passing the final proposed budget on Monday, Sept. 21, at the Helena City Council Meeting.

“The mayor, the department heads and the council have worked really hard on this,” said Helena Councilwoman Cris Nelson. “We’re really doing well. The city is doing well in all of its revenues and the department heads have done an excellent job on the expenses. We’re actually going to have a positive, balanced budget going into 2015-2016 year and we’re actually passing the budget on time which is another wonderful milestone.”

It was also noted that the projected revenue is the most the city has had in numerous years.

“This is the most revenue that we’ve had in numerous years,” said Nelson. “The sales tax revenues have done really well and with the continued growth that we anticipate with the businesses that we already know that are on the horizon, we truly anticipate 2015-2016 to do better in what we’re budgeting.”

Some of the highlights of the budget includes a $250,000 projected revenue for building permits and nearly $3.6 million in sales tax revenues, according to Nelson.

Helena Councilman Mike Jones was most proud that the city was able to provide a one-step raise and a three percent cost of living adjustment for all city employees in the budget.

“I’m most excited about us being able to give the cost of living raises, as well as the step raise,” said Jones. “Our employees serve us everyday as citizens of this city and they deserve everything in the world that we can give them. We work day and night to try and give them everything in the world we can give them.”

Other highlights of the budget include purchasing two new Tahoe patrol units for the police department, adding body cameras for the SRO officers and accounting for some additional training for the emergency response team in the city.

Helena Mayor Mark Hall was pleased at how the council and department heads could come together and work within the budget as well as being able to assist the Helena schools, whose budget comes from the Shelby County Board of Education.

“This budget, while it’s a very small budget compared to municipalities our size, a city of 17,500 with four schools and all the services we have to provide, it’s really amazing that we can provide the services we do with a small amount of money that we have,” said Hall.