SIERRA VISTA — On Thursday, the Sierra Vista City Council will vote on the city’s budget cap for fiscal year 2020 and it will be higher than it has been for the city for a number of years.

During the work session on Tuesday, city staff explained that the tentative budget has increased from $87,150,107 to $90,368,774 due to several changes.

If approved, the budget will be the most the city has spent since FY2011.

Assistant City Manager Victoria Yarbrough explained the changes that led to the increase of the overall budget.

“When we presented $80 million, that was tentative,” Yarbrough said. “In between now and then there have been things that have changed so we have to tell the council what changed, a lot of this has to do with timing.”

“What this vote does is caps the FY budget at that amount and the final budget could be less or equal to the tentative budget, but it could not be more.”

The majority of changes are within the general fund.

The city is currently in the process of negotiating an agreement with the county for consolidated court services and added $30,000 to the budget for it. When the tentative budget book came out, those negotiations hadn’t happened yet.

As part of the city’s strategic planning, one of their goals is to reduce emergency response times.

For the last year, the city has been looking into adding a new EMS substation in town. Though they originally placed it in the tentative budget at around $2 million, staff have reduced it to $1 million, something Yarbrough said she believes they can bring lower.

“I think we can do better and we are working on that right now related to the potential cost of the tower for communications, I think we can bring it way down,” she said. “That $1 million is the ceiling and in the end we will be financing that as well.”

The area identified for the EMS substation is a part of town where response times are higher. The city owns land opposite of Tompkins Park around Buffalo Soldier Trail and Seventh Street which has been selected for the site of a possible substation.

“It would be ambulances only to help lower those response times and take some strain off Station 1 (the busiest station),” she said. “We are hoping to get it constructed next year and that’s why no vehicles are involved in this budget.”

Additionally, the city tentatively budgeted a $45,000 increase to ambulance revenue.

The capital improvement fund has an additional $50,000 allocated for a remodel to the Oscar Yrun Community Center.

Yarbrough said the community center project is still under discussion, but having it written into the budget would allow them to move forward with it if needed.

The city received an additional $197,802 in Highway User Revenue Funds. The state legislature decided to give an additional allotment of funds to all cities and counties in Arizona.

The total fund for the South East Arizona Command (SEACOM) has been tentatively set at $2,469,372, including a $27,100 grant.

Because the city acts as the fiscal agent over SEACOM they are reimbursed by other partners within SEACOM.

Yarbrough said that in order to have full transparency they have written the SEACOM budget the same way they would a city department — itemized.

“It wasn’t very clear what was going on, so we looked and got a full budget for SEACOM that details all the expenses and we’re actually setting it up in the budget as if were a department,” she said.

The vote this Thursday only sets the cap at $90,368,774. Approval of the final budget will take place on July 11. For more information, visit the City of Sierra Vista’s website.

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