At midway point, city budget is in good shape, director notes

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Midway through the fiscal year, the city of Columbia Falls financial health is solid, city finance director Sandy Carlson told the city council last week.

The city’s revenues against expenditures are almost dead even, with total revenue of about $3.4133 million and expenditures of about $3.406 million.

Public works makes up about 40 percent of the city’s year-to-date expenditures while public safety takes up about 23 percent.

The city has about $683,000 in a bank account that it can utilize immediately — such as to pay payroll and other expenses. It has just under $5 million in an Montana short-term investment account that can be accessed within a day and an additional $2.2 million in longer term investments.

Interest earnings range from as high as 3 percent to as low as 0.4 percent for the immediate account. The bulk of the city’s cash reserves are in its sewer and water accounts, as the city will soon undertake improvement projects to address maintenance and expansion of both.

The water system needs a new well and the sewer system will be expanding in the coming years as well.

On the growth side, the city has already issued 30 building permits. Commercial building permits total $5.88 million while singe family homes were $2.3 million.

The city does have one program that continually requires subsidies from taxpayers — the pool. The city’s pool last summer brought in about $22,000 in revenue, but cost $69,433 to operate.

The city’s coffers picked up the difference of $47,335. Last year the pool was open about 55 days.

In year’s past, the city has subsidized the pool operation anywhere from $35,437 in 2015 to $58,829 in 2017. In 2017, however, the pool was open about a week longer.

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