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Hayden has 1st budget meeting

Town Board members hear proposals

Autumn Phillips

— The Hayden Town Board met Tuesday night in the first of three budget meetings to yea or nay the wish lists of its residents and staff and to decide the monetary outlook of 2003.

For board members, it was the first bite and a lot to digest.

Town Clerk Lisa Johnston said the town is in good financial shape.

“This region was not hit as hard by economic downturn as many others,” Johnston said, citing high sales tax projections for the town.

A large amount of revenue was also predicted for zoning and subdivision fees, up to $25,000 from last year’s $500 projected figure, after an influx of development proposals and the passing of an ordinance to make developers pay their own way through the review process.

Despite a positive financial outlook, proposed spending exceeded Hayden’s available revenue by more than $500,000.

Board members were shown a first draft of the budget for 2003, and they began the somewhat tedious job of paring down the figures to match revenues.

Large expenditures for last year included a request by the Town Hall staff for an archive-quality scanner, potentially costing $15,000.

The town’s current record-keeping system is organized through a card catalog and the records themselves are aging rapidly, some on onionskin paper.

“It can be intimidating even to pick up some of these records,” Town Manager Rob Straebel said.

The new scanner, if approved, would record documents digitally. They would be electronically searchable.

Other large requests came from Police Chief Jody Lenahan. His wish list included adding another full-time officer. Entry-level pay for an officer in Hayden is $32,057.

“With all this annexation and building talk, I think we will need to go to 24-hour coverage soon,” he said.

The police department has requested a grant to pay for the new position, but the money will not be available until 2004.

Lenahan also asked for money to increase the animal control officer position from 20 hours a week to full time.

“We’ve seen a lot of proposals for development,” Straebel said. “But we have actually only received five or six building permits. That’s only 15 or 20 new people in Hayden.

“I’m not sure if there is a need for a new officer.”

The board was receptive to the idea of giving the current animal control officer more hours and agreed to discuss the rest at a future meeting.

“This is the first I’ve heard of most of this and I need a couple weeks to let it sink in,” Mayor Chuck Grobe said.

The next budget meeting will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at Town Hall.


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