Strasburg works to clarify budget

STRASBURG – The Strasburg Finance Committee worked through the town’s 2016-2017 budget Monday to look for potential savings and differentiate between necessary and discretionary spending.

Among the items discussed were the Strasburg Town Pool.

The fiscal discrimination is part of Councilman Don Le Vine’s attempt to make the budget an easier and more user-friendly document for residents to understand.

Prior to the meeting, Le Vine broke all budget line items into two categories: “difficult to change,” and “necessary but variable.” He and the committee then went through each item to determine if money could be saved, and if different expenditures should be moved up or down.

“That’s the purpose of this exercise,” Le Vine said. ” … We’re discussing whether it should be discussed. There’s a difference. Things down below in the ‘necessary but variable’ aren’t necessarily going to be cut … Moving something below doesn’t mean we’re getting rid of it, it means we’re discussing it.”

“Difficult to change” expenditures refer to spending for necessary goods and services for the town to function.

In total as the budget is allocated, roughly $9 million of the budget is spent on “difficult to change” goods and services while $1 million is spent on necessary but variable costs.

“Our budget is roughly 10 million, and we’ve said that only 1 million dollars is discretionary based,” Le Vine said, highlighting the finding.

The Strasburg Town Pool was a particular point of contention. According to the budget, pool maintenance costs the city $40,800 and pool materials and supplies cost $21,200 annually.

However, according to Financial Director Dottie Mullins, the town ends up spending roughly $94,000 per year on the pool after repairs, while it receives $50,000 in revenue. This makes for a net loss of $44,000 per year.

Councilwoman Kim Bishop said there should be discussion to get rid of the pool, but Mayor Rich Orndorff Jr. advised against it.

As Le Vine said, all discussion at this point is preliminary and no decisions are coming in the near future.

The committee only went line by line through the “difficult to change” section. Le Vine tabled the same process for the “necessary but variable” items for next month’s meeting, where Town Manager Ryan Spitzer will push for certain items to be moved up in the hierarchy, according to Le Vine.

The finance committee will finish the discussion at its next meeting at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 12.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com