Ferdinand budget requests kept to a minimum


FERDINAND — The Town of Ferdinand is keeping its 2022 budget slim to allow for flexibility for future projects.

The Ferdinand Town Council met late last week to discuss the town’s budget for the upcoming year. After its annual daylong budget hearings, the council has an idea of what each department needs, although an official general fund budget number has not been finalized.

At the hearings, each department presents the council with a “wish list” of improvements and equipment, Town Manager Chris James said. This year, each department kept it pretty simple.

“This year, the list of asks was way down,” James said. “It’s kind of boring, but there was nothing really extravagant, no major projects, just status quo business. We don’t always want to be status quo because big projects mean the town is developing … but we like to have that in moderation. We’re only a certain-sized community, and we only have so many dollars available to us.”

Some examples of routine requests are money to the street department for continual decorative lighting on Main Street or updated equipment such as a new police vehicle.

James said it’s important for the town to have funds set aside for unexpected projects that may crop up throughout the year.

“We try to stay flexible in case a developer pops up one day and says, ‘Hey, we’re going to put in a subdivision on this piece of property,’ ” he said. “It gives us a chance to adapt quicker to what we might have to do for them, in terms of extension of utilities or whatever the case may be.”

The electric, water and sewer utility budgets are separate from the town’s general fund because the utilities generate their own revenue.

Additionally, the town will receive a little over $507,000 from the federal government via the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, which provides funds for COVID-19 recovery. It’s a two-year funding process, and the town is set to receive the first half in August.

When the town received money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, the ways in which the money could be spent were initially very restricted, James said. Eventually, the restrictions were loosened. James said he expects the ARPA funding to function the same way.

The town would like to put some of the ARPA money toward the electric department, James said, but electric projects are restricted for now. In the past, the town put some CARES Act money toward police department payroll in order to free up money in the general fund.

The town council will hold a special meeting 6:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Ferdinand Town Hall to discuss how the ARPA funds will be used. The public is encouraged to attend and provide input.

“Folks from town can come in and say, ‘Why don’t you use the money for this?’ ” James said. “That will allow us the chance to say, ‘We can’t,’ or, ‘We hadn’t thought about that type of project,’ and add it to the list.”

Official numbers for the town’s 2022 general fund budget will be finalized after an August hearing and September adoption.

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