PAYETTE - As the Payette City Council plans for the year ahead, the city has received accolades for how that’s been done in the past; In April, the city of Payette was honored with the Government Finance Officers Association’s Distinguished Budget Presentation award for its Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

According to a news release dated April 8, the award reflects an achievement the Association deemed “significant.”

“It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting,” it read. “In order to receive the budget award, the City had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation.”

The release said that to qualify for the award, a city budget had to serve multiple purposes and be rated as “proficient” in serving as:

• a policy document;

• a financial plan;

• an operations guide; and

• a communications device.

City Clerk Mary Cordova says this award is another reason why Payette residents can trust their city hall with their concerns.

“Receipt of this award from the GFOA, coupled with our annual audit, are important measures of financial integrity and sound accounting policies,” said Cordova in an email on June 9. “It speaks to our continued dedication and best practices in financial planning, reporting, and transparency as well as the professionalism and knowledge of our staff. Our residents can feel secure in the competence and fiscal responsibility that is demonstrated by this achievement.”

‘A steep learning curve’

In an email on June 12, Payette Mayor Jeff Williams said ensuring budgets work for his city’s residents is a key reason why he first sought the position.

“I ran for City Council in the Fall of 2003 because I was skeptical about the internal organization of the city of Payette and how the people’s dollars were being collected, accounted for and spent,” said Williams. “Talk about a steep learning curve; Government budgeting is much more difficult to understand than creating a household or business budget. The Cause and Effect and Risk versus Reward analysis is not an easy decision to make when it comes to spending our taxpayers money.”

Williams added that the City Clerk and Deputy Clerk were instrumental in devising an award-winning budget, as was keeping both balancing the city’s needs and keeping tax burdens as low as possible for the next five to 10 years down the road in mind.

“The city winning this award is directly attributed to those individuals, their immediate staff, the departments and all elected officials buy-in to that transparency,” he said.

As far as the budget for Fiscal Year 2021, Cordova said that while novel coronavirus COVID-19 has affected the budget itself, it hasn’t disrupted planning.

“COVID-19 has not affected the budgeting process, but will have an impact on revenues in the FY21 budget. The source of cities’ revenue sharing funds are from state sales tax revenues, which do fluctuate with economic growth and decline. In addition, the Idaho Transportation Department has shared some recent modeling in an attempt to derive the impacts to the Highway Distribution Account resulting from dramatically lower traffic volumes as a result of the Stay-Home Order and the loss of gas tax revenue. For those reasons we need to be cautious and are making conservative revenue projections in the FY21 budget.”

According to Cordova, the council will hold several budget work sessions prior to the planned public hearing, to be held July 27 at 6 p.m. Williams urged the public to attend.

“If the Taxpayers and residents come to all of our work sessions and hearings to tell the City Council and myself how to prioritize the services that we offer, it would be greatly appreciated.”

As food for thought, Williams reminds the public that property taxes and fees support the library, streets and parks, recreation, public safety, public works and the Payette Municipal Airport.

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