News

City sewer rate, utility tax may increase

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

 

Sequim city councilors are considering a 2-percent sewer-rate increase and a 2-percent utility-tax increase on water, sewer and garbage.

 

For a typical single-family residential ratepayer, the utility tax increases would mean about $1.20 more for sewer per month and 50 cents for garbage every two months.

 

City Manager Steve Burkett decided to defer a water-rate increase for one year and not increase the property-tax levy the 1-percent allowed by state law.

 

An anticipated 12-percent revenue increase from sales taxes, utility-tax increases and fund transfers led him not to propose the property-tax levy increase.

 

Burkett said the sewer increase would help pay for the recently completed $11 million upgrade to the wastewater reclamation system.

 

City staff said they expect to receive $185,000 from the utility tax bump for the general fund. Sewer rate increases would support sewer operations.

 

Burkett and councilors said they hope to minimize the impact of increases, particularly for residents with low incomes. Council members are considering a low-income-discount policy for those who qualify.

 

Filling the gap

The city budget is proposed at about $18.6 million, with councilors looking to approve it Monday, Nov. 22, at Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.

 

Earlier this year, Burkett projected the city to have a $300,000 revenue gap, but he and staff reduced expenditures by $200,000 and increased revenues by about $100,000.

 

General fund revenues are expected to be about $7.87 million and city staff intends not to use general fund and street operation reserves. The combined fund balance by the end of 2011 is expected to be about $1.4 million. The net loss the past five years was about $1.1 million.

 

Some budgeted capital projects include:

  • $500,000 for east end water main and $200,000 for sewer main to Sequim Marine Sciences Laboratory
  • $275,000 for water main line replacements
  • $300,000 for overlay to repair damage done to streets
  • $540,000 reclaimed water project, phase II
  • $100,000 for Transportation Benefit District projects, $72,000 for Rhodefer Road chip seal, $50,000 for Olympic Discovery Trail slide repair
  • $1 million for future city hall project

 

City department budget highlights:

  • City council, budget $36,000, increase of $9,000 from 2010 for a retreat facilitator and city manager performance appraisal
  • City manager, budget $174,000, increase of $6,000 for funding of facilitator for leadership team building
  • City clerks, budget $219,000, increase of $26,000 for city centennial celebration planning and salary/benefit increases
  • City attorney's office, civil, budget $233,000, decrease of $2,000 by reducing outside counsel/consultants
  • City attorneys criminal prosecution, $476,000, decrease of $10,000 with jail alternatives for nonviolent crimes, contract prosecution attorney and diversion
  • Communication, $60,000, a new program including $20,000 for customer satisfaction survey
  • Communications and tourism, budget $217,000, increase of $27,000 for new staff position and city logo, a one-time expense
  • Administrative services (finance, human resources, technology), budget $1.138 million with an increase of $190,000
  • Police, budget $2.4 million with a decrease of $14,840 due to elimination of one position.
  • Public works, operations $5.6 million, 11-percent increase
  • Public works, capital $5.9 million, 10-percent decrease.

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