Editor's note: This article was updated at 3:51 p.m. on May 3, 2019 with the correct description of the city's waste water treatment system.
The City of Union’s budget committee will not be facing any anguishing decisions this spring.
Union’s financial picture appears strong, for the city’s proposed spending plan for 2019-20 is up 12 percent. The city has presented a proposed 2019-20 spending plan of $5.3 million to its budget committee, which is $650,000 more than the present year’s budget.
City of Union Administrator Doug Wiggins credits the increase to careful attention to expenditures over the past year, which means the city will begin the 2019-20 fiscal year with more cash on hand.
“More conservative spending means we will have more carryover from last year,” Wiggins said.
The City of Union’s budget does not call for any personnel or program cuts or additions.
Portions of the budget that are strong include the city’s sewer capital project fund. Wiggins said this portion of the budget will give the city a good start at raising the money needed to build a $5 million lagoon water treatment system. Wiggins said by June of 2020 he hopes the city has between $500,000 and $750,000 in this fund, which would put the city a step closer to landing government matching grants for the lagoon project.
The proposed lagoon system would replace the present mechanical treatment system in which treated effluent is poured into Catherine Creek in the winter and used at other times to water Buffalo Peak Golf Course. It costs more to operate this system than it would a lagoon since more manpower is needed, Wiggins said.
The city’s proposed 2019-2020 budget also has a fund for the development of Union’s old U.S. Forest Service ranger station. Wiggins hopes in about a year the fund will have between $175,000 and $200,000.
The ranger station, near the northwest edge of Union, was built in 1937 and deeded to the City of Union in 1993. The ranger station has a four-bedroom house, a three-bedroom house, a two-bedroom house, an old oil storage building, a barn, a utility building, a utility garage and two garages detached from the houses.
The city rents the houses, and two of the other buildings are used by Union’s public works department.
The city council recently created a committee to make recommendations on how the ranger station can be renovated so that it could better serve Union and boost its economy.
See complete story in Wednesday's Observer