Hayden mulls future budget

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— Even as Hayden town officials begin the long process of deciding what deserves funding in next year's budget, future requests for money two and three years from now also loom in the back of their minds.

As the town of Hayden continues to grow, so do the demands on its public services.

Three weeks ago, the Hayden Board of Trustees approved the Dry Creek Park and Trail Master Plan to provide ample recreation opportunities for the town.

The plan includes two soccer fields, am amphitheater, seasonal ice skating rink, two baseball/softball fields, a T-ball field, two restroom/concession areas, a picnic and playground area, trails and a shared access road and parking with the Fairgrounds.

Even then, the board approved a recommendation made by the Recreation Board that a community center should also be considered as the Hayden community grew.

Future budget requests might involve the addition of city employees and the expansion of city buildings.

"We're growing," Town Manager Rob Straebel said. "We can't deny that."

Some people have suggested the town hire a planner to assist him with his work, Straebel said, but it's still a premature idea.

He explained that the idea has been brought up many times, but the additional salary might be hard to justify as a year-round position.

"It's kind of hit and miss as far as when I might need the extra help," Straebel said. "I personally cannot recommend hiring a planner. I don't think it's needed."

Future funding requests must be always weighed against the ability to finance those requests, he added.

Hayden's Town Hall, which was built in 1995, is already pressed for space as employees who already work there try to accommodate new employees.

Town Clerk Lisa Johnston said she has heard many people discuss an expansion of Town Hall.

"But the problem is that we're landlocked, so the only way is up," Johnston said.

Building up could lead to bigger expansion costs, Police Chief Jody Lenahan said, but his department, which now operates out of Town Hall, will require more space in a few years.

Over the next few budget meetings, he said he would be asking board members about the feasibility of a new police station.

He said it might be time to apply for Energy Impact funds to add on to Town Hall or to build a police station.

In addition to space, Lenahan said the town might require additional officers to meet the demands of 24-hour coverage.

Four full-time officers and one part-time officer currently make up the Hayden police force.

One way to alleviate the demand placed on the full-time officers would be to make the part-time code enforcement/animal control officer a full-time employee, he said.

"This is something that we'll be talking about in the next month, so that we can prepare for the future growth of this community," Lenahan said.

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