Boise City Councilman David Eberle called the city's proposed 2014 budget a "hold the line" measure.
It calls for most departments' spending to increase by about 2.75 percent - the growth rate city officials believe is sustainable long-term.
The amount of money budgeted for police and fire spending, however, would swell by about 4.4 percent if the council approves the Mayor David Bieter's proposal. Bieter's staff pointed out that the extra money set aside for the police and fire departments isn't set in stone. Instead, it's a placeholder, a starting point for negotiations between the city and the fire and police unions, whose contracts will expire Oct. 1.
Even as they praised progress on reaching a balanced 2014 budget, council members acknowledged they must resolve a projected $2.1 million deficit for the 2015 fiscal year, which begins in October of next year.
"It leaves us a lot of work to do next year," Eberle said.
The city's budget analysts said they're confident they'll find room to reconcile the deficit, which is the result of projected spending increases by the fire and police departments. It may be that other departments trim their budgets, or police and fire spending is less than expected.
Also, the city may take in more money than the city's models predict, senior budget analyst Brent Davis said. If that's the case, the increase most likely will come from a boost in sales tax payments and development revenue such as building permits and fees.
By next spring, Davis said, the city should have a fairly clear idea of how much money's coming in and how much each department will spend.
Now that the council has formally recommended the budget, the city must hold a public hearing on it. That hearing is scheduled for July 16. After that, council is scheduled to hear three readings of an ordinance that would adopt the budget.
If you can't make it to the public hearing, you can still let Bieter and the council know what you think about the proposed budget. Call the mayor's office at 384-4422 or send an email to email@example.com.