City restores 40-hour week

The 2009 city budget includes a 40-hour work week for all full-time city employees plus requested funding for the Boys & Girls Club, United Way of Clallam County and the Clallam County Economic Development Council.

It also includes $8.3 million in grant funding for the upcoming water reuse plant expansion project. But it does not include $6,000 for the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce nor a lawn mower requested by the parks board for the proposed soccer fields at the water reuse park.

The city council voted 5-2 at its Dec. 8 meeting to approve the 2009 budget. It totals $24.1 million and includes a $7.8 million general fund with a reserve fund of just over $1 million.

City Councilors Erik Erichsen and Susan Lorenzen voted "no."

A separate vote to include a 60-day hiring freeze until Interim City Manager Linda Herzog can analyze the city's staffing was unanimous.

The $7.8 million general fund, down from $8.1 million in 2008, includes virtually everything associated with city government (except utilities) including the city manager and council, city attorney, police, planning and public works, building inspections and parks.

The remainder of the $24.1 million 2009 budget includes special revenue funds such as streets, hotel/motel tax and criminal justice, capital funds, water and sewer funds and trust funds.

Despite being a relatively small part of the general fund, the agency funding requests dominated the council's Dec. 8 discussion as they have for much of the budget process.

Erichsen said he didn't support $18,000 for the Economic Development Council. If the city gives $30,000 to the Boys & Girls Club, this should be the last year, he said.

City Councilor Ken Hays said he didn't support the $18,000 for the EDC either.

City Councilor Bill Huizinga said if everything goes as planned, he would like to see the $6,000 for the chamber of commerce put back into the budget.

City Councilor Paul McHugh said that chamber funding was not included because when he and former Councilor Ron Farquhar reviewed all the city's contracts, they didn't think the agency was in the position to fulfill the contract.

He's not sure the chamber will be able to fulfill the contract next year either, McHugh said.

Lorenzen said Clallam County gives zero to the Boys & Girls Club, so why does the city give $30,000 or $60,000?

"The Boys & Girls Club is a lot of money and we don't have a lot of money," she said.

City Councilor Walt Schubert said the county's programs, such as juvenile services, are reactive ones that deal with problems after they develop instead of trying to prevent them. Although the Boys & Girls Club serves children living outside the city, the city's money goes to the Teen Club that is located in Sequim.

Hays asked how they could ensure that funding the Teen Club won't cause the Boys & Girls Club to neglect its primary program?

The budget also includes a projected $11.78 million expense in the "sewer restricted fund" for expansion of the city's water reuse system. Projected revenues for the project total $10.83 million in grants and other funding, up from $2.5 million in the preliminary budget. The remaining $950,000 is projected to come from the sewer restricted fund's $3.8 million beginning balance.

The city council voted unanimously at its Aug. 25 meeting to accept a $1.1 million Ecology grant for expanding the city's water reclamation site and distribution system. The city must contribute a 25-percent match, or $275,817, to receive the grant. The money will come from the city's sewer restricted fund.

The city operates a water reclamation plant that produces about 627,000 gallons daily of "Class A" water, the highest class of reclaimed water.

Administrative Services Director Karen Goschen said she included additional general fund revenue such as $50,000 in projected sales taxes and $24,770 from closing out the long-dormant contingency fund.

Restoring one-third of the city's employees to a 40-hour week instead of the previous 38 hours will cost a projected $86,000.

When assorted internal transfers and service charges are included, the result is a projected general fund ending balance of $1,005,573, Goschen said.

The council decided at its Oct. 13 meeting to maintain at least a $1 million ending balance in the general fund, up from $750,000 in previous years.

Hays said they must realize that the reserve could disappear if they aren't careful because this isn't the last year of the country's economic problems.

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