City passes $12M budget |

City passes $12M budget

Grass Valley city leaders approved a $12.2-million budget Tuesday night that leaves open two vacant police officer positions, calls for sewer and water fee increases and establishes a new city vehicle replacement fund.

Council members unanimously approved the budget with little discussion beyond concerns already voiced about the cost of an ongoing lawsuit with Newmont Mining Corp. and the need to increase water and sewer fees.

The budget represents a nearly $1.5-million increase from the previous year and balances revenues and expenditures, according to city budget documents.

Grass Valley’s lawsuit with the Denver-based mining company already has cost the city more than $1.3 million in legal and related fees, slashing the city’s general fund balance to $1.9 million. The city has treated the metal-laden water from an abandoned mine owned by the company for the past several years.

The lawsuit, as well as sewer treatment plant upgrades, loom large over the city budget, said Interim City Administrator Jeff Foltz.

These financial burdens helped lead to the decision to leave the public safety positions vacant, Foltz said.

The city budget allows for 21 officer positions, but only 19 are filled.

Citizens might notice one less officer on bike patrol or one less officer walking the beat, said Police Chief John Foster.

“I don’t believe our level of service will be compromised,” Foster said.

The vacancies typically attract entry-level officers needing six months of police academy training and, subsequently, six months of field training, he said. Even before the positions were frozen, no entry level candidates were lined up for the training, he said.

Although operation costs at the sewer and water treatment plants have increased, and federal standards consistently require upgrades, customer rates haven’t gone up for more than 12 years, Foltz said.

Specific rate increases aren’t set yet, but a consulting firm is reviewing the city’s rate structure, and next month the firm is expected to suggest a formula for future rate changes.

City council members said they were pleased that future city vehicle and technology needs were accounted for in the budget.

The city is creating a list of its vehicles and their condition to get a better sense of when replacements would be necessary, Foltz said. Vehicle mileage and general wear and tear are included in the list, he said.


To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail or call 477-4234.

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