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March 27, 2006

Falconville Assignment- Budget

The Falconville City Council met last night to discuss the proposed budget and recommended property tax rate for next fiscal year. The new budget recommended by City Administrator, Joan Bell, will be cut from last year’s $2.4 million to $2.1 million.The budget cuts are zeroing in, affecting ambulance services, down 80.5%; City Attorney’s, Camden Hayden, wages down 51.5%; and Park and Recreation funding down 13%.

Although these funds have been cut, other areas will benefit. When asked what the highlights are of the budget being cut; Bell replied, “Well, most employees got a 4% pay raise and the police got a 5% raise. We also eliminated some duplication and trimmed some costly services. The total budget is down.?

Director of Parks and Recreation, Elaine Hulquist, describes the hurt that the budget cut will create, “We'll undoubtedly be cutting some popular programs and we'll be increasing user fees for some other programs. We're looking into public and private grants for other important programs. We may even seek some corporate sponsorships for some activities.?

“We'll be cutting things such as safe boating classes and free supervised nature walks. The recreation commission is recommending finding alternative funding sources for senior citizen programs and eliminating free summer swimming programs,? Hulquist expects.

Mayor, Henry Smith added, “We're still working on that, but some children's programs and some senior citizen's programs may be curtailed. Expect to see more user fees. We just can't keep doing everything we've been doing. It's too bad. Blame it on the economy and the state's refusal to let us keep property taxes.?

Despite the cuts in Falconville’s budget, the City Administratior’s fund is remaining at $90,000. Bell clarified, “It's not all salary. My portion, including benefits, is $54,000. The rest is for staff help and set-up supplies. I think it's justified when you see what other areas we save in by consolidating duties into one office,? when asked to justify her salary.

Smith also said, “We've consolidated a lot of services into this position and her staff's position. We added $90,000 to that part of the budget, but cut several times that from other parts. She'll also help oversee spending.?

Bell has lived in Falconville for 5 years now; and as the economy fell and budgets tightened, the City Council looked for a more efficient way to run the city. That is when Bell was brought in as a consultant and began serving the job of Acting City Administrator. The City Council voted 5-0 to appoint Bell.

When Vice Mayor, Luis Gomez, was asked about the City Administrator’s position, he replied, “For some time we've had too many cooks running the show. With shrinking revenues we need one person in charge of the department heads. The council can't do it by itself. This is the wisest move we've made in some time.?

“It's been a long-term goal of mine to see it adopted BEFORE the fiscal year begins. City Administrator Bell can take some credit for whipping the budget into shape early.? Smith described how the budget was adopted earlier than in previous years.

“We had to cut because of shrinking revenues and the fact that a dollar just won't buy what it used to,? Smith reasoned the budget cuts in a nutshell.


March 8, 2006

Event Story- Health Fair

Friday, March 3, 2006

“Well you look like a healthy specimen,? said a volunteer from Life Source, as he extended his hand to greet guests at the Spring Health Fair.
Right away when students walked in past the island themed entrance table, Tom Sabrun, eagerly approached them to ask if they were organ donors. With a smile and a firm hand shake, Sabrun introduced himself and his thoughts on why people should think about becoming donors.
“People die everyday- It’s a shame to let organs go to waste,? said Sabrun.
Tom Sabrun, 62, volunteers a lot of his time to this national organ donating organization. He feels it is very important to spread the word.
‘Treasure Your Health’ was the theme of the UMD Health Services 2006 event. In the Kirby Rafters on March 1st, there were many organizations that had come together to educate students about their bodies and health. Life Source was just one of the many organizations that had a booth set up at UMD’s Spring Health Fair.
‘Spring Break Survival Kits’ which included band-aids, tips on alcohol poisoning, and condoms, were given away. With a poster that read, “Come put your pole in our hole, and see what you catch,? it attracted many curious guests.
“Yes! I got Chlamydia,? shouted Sophomore Suzanne Thompson, after she went ‘fishing!’ (Students either caught an STD, or a fact about various things related to spring break.)
The UMD campus police had a table set up that offered students the chance to wear ‘drunk goggles’ and walk along a straight, taped line on the floor; students from the Lake Superior Massage Therapy School offered 10-15 minute massages to those interested; and the Associated Chiropractic Physicians provided the option for students to get their tension levels tested in their necks and backs, then set a follow-up examination at the clinic if the student wanted to.
“Your health is very important to your families,? pointed out Sabrun to a couple of students.
While handing students’ forms to fill out; to declare ones-self an organ donor, he advised students to talk with their families about this decision.
“Nobody wants to find out after a loved ones death, said Sabrun, “that they decided to donate and didn’t let others know!?
“I’ve been an organ donor since I was a kid, shared Sabrun.?
Tom Sabrun, had an organ transplant in August of 2004. He received the heart of a 24-year-old man, who had died in a motorcycling accident.
“When Tom said that ‘You never consider that someday you might need one ’ it really opened my eyes. I am really considering becoming an organ donor,? said Junior, Ryan Smith.