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New budget cycle begins with new fiscal year

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City of Homer

The Homer City Council has a new budget cycle that’s about to begin. The council voted last year to align the city’s fiscal year with that of the state, so that it begins on July 1 this year, instead of previous years when it aligned with the calendar year.
City Manager Rob Dumouchel brought up the budget with the city council on Monday night.
“Yeah, I've heard pretty loud and clear from council there's an interest in doing our work sessions, getting deeper to some of the details a lot, earlier on. I have like seven different modules kind of sketched out for work sessions. Do you want to do them, you know, as individual modules and separate days, do you want to have a couple more intense days?” he asked. “I don't know how often you have an interest or a stomach to meet and just talk budget every day, all day, but that's what we do for a living. So we can do it anytime he wants to.”
This is Dumouchel’s first budget with the City of Homer after being hired last summer. He said he wants to make sure the council members are in on the ground floor of the budget process.
“There's a lot of feedback I've gotten since I've been here that you feel like sometimes you don't get a chance to really engage with department staff on things, or there's just so much happening, you feel like things get a little missed,” he said. “And so I'm just trying to give you enough space to see everything, provide comments to staff as we're actually developing the draft. And then that way we're getting your feedback up front instead of trying to work backwards from a nearly completed document in May and June.”
Councilmember Rachel Lord, who was initially skeptical about changing the fiscal year dates, endorsed Dumouchel’s plan.
“I like conceptually the idea of this, and I don't think we've ever done something like this,” Lord said. “So, in terms of what it ends up looking like and how it rolls out, I'm super supportive of giving it a try and, and getting a little more deep overview in each section of the budget as it's in its process of drafting.”
Mayor Ken Castner had high hopes for this first budget under the new fiscal year.
“I really hope that this next two-year budget is a model one the city can have for a long, long while,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that.”
Councilmember Heath Smith said he was onboard with the concept, but urged caution.
“There is a bit of a balance. It is the city manager's job to present us with a balanced budget and he's going to have to kind of do some weight and balances there in order to get it there,” Smith said. “So I, on some level, I don't want to interfere with that, but I do want to be a part of the process so we have a better understanding of how he gets there and it will give us better information to kind of see what those trade-offs are.”
Dumouchel responded that he’d rather hear of problems in February or March than in May or June.

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