With streets project done, Sterling Town budget decreases 45 percent

With streets project done, Sterling Town budget decreases 45 percent


John Hales

Staff writer



STERLING—Minus the expense of a streets improvement project that is now finished, the Sterling Town budget for the fiscal year that started this month is pretty much even with last year’s.

If it’s only a matter of the bottom line, the town’s general operating budget for the next year is just 45 percent of what it was the previous year: $129,189, which is down from $233,430 for fiscal year 2017.

But that $104,241 difference comes almost entirely from just over $100,000 in maintenance and capital-outlay costs for the streets project undertaken by the town the two previous years.

The project done, the town won’t need to shell out this year for that expense.

With that taken into account, there is a difference of only $3,458 lower this year from last year.

By the time you also factor in nearly $5,000 in cemetery-project debt service that retired last year, the budget this year is only about $1,500 from being exactly square with last year’s. It also means that the $1,500 difference is a year-over increase, but accounts for just slightly more than 1 percent of this year’s budget.

One-third of that difference came from the town council’s willingness to spend an extra $500 this year for 24th of July festivities, which the town celebrated on Monday of this week. The extra amount may have been part of a mea culpa for cancelling the event last year, which was met with stern disapproval from townspeople.

At a city council meeting about one year ago, shortly after cancelling the celebration—but too late to do anything about it—Mayor Randall Cox said he and the town had made a mistake in not holding the traditional celebration.

“I’ve had quite a few people mad at me,” he said at the time. “I apologize, and it won’t happen next year. Next year we are going to have it. We aren’t even going to talk about canceling it.”

He and the town council were as good as their word, with a 24th of July celebration that got perhaps more attention —as well as an additional 25-percent funding boost —this year than in years past.

“I felt it went really good,” Councilmember Yvonne Larsen said Tuesday, Larsen and Councilmember Marilyn Lyon, headed the town’s 24th celebration effort. “I feel it was one of the better ones we’ve ever had, in all the years we’ve done it.”

The celebration committee planned more and diverse activities this year, she said. “There was just something there for everybody; that was the comment from the crowd and the committee.”

Did the town council intend for the extra $500 to be a make-up for last year?

“Yeah, that’s how they felt,” Larsen said. But they also wanted to invest in event as a way to raise money for planned improvements to the city park: a better celebration might mean more donations.

“People will remember they had a good time,” Larsen said.