City approves $18.6 million budget

Sequim Gazette

The city of Sequim’s proposed 2011 budget, worth $18.6 million, was approved Monday night after snow postponed the Nov. 22 meeting and a power outage postponed the Nov. 29 meeting.


Councilors voted 5-2 in favor of the budget with Don Hall and Erik Erichsen opposed.


Mayor Ken Hays said approving the balanced budget is the first step to getting the city in the black over the next three years. Other councilors in favor of the budget gave kudos to City Manager Steve Burkett and Karen Goschen, city administrative services director, for crafting the budget.


Hall said he was disappointed in the budget’s approval and listed careless spending for a city council retreat facilitator, an evaluation of the city manager toward the end of his career and the city’s centennial celebration, two years away.


“It doesn’t make sense to fund these things when the Boys & Girls Club struggles,” Hall said.


Most discussion about the budget centered on health and human services funding.


Burkett proposed and the city council approved $70,000 for nonprofit agencies such as the Boys & Girls Clubs; $66,000 for the Visitor Information Center run by the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce; and $5,000 for the Clallam Economic Development Council. The three funds equal about 0.75 percent of the total budget. Councilors had earlier proposed a minimum of $10,000 each for the Dungeness Valley Health and Wellness Clinic, the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Sequim Senior Activity Center, the first time the current council has given to the senior center.


Erichsen opposed the budget because he feels the council is out-of-bounds for giving taxpayers’ money to nonprofits and the visitor information center when residents could choose to fund those themselves.


Annually, the council appoints United Way of Clallam County to make recommendations for the health and human services fund. Councilors have ultimate approval and last year they went with the recommendation. Most councilors expressed interest in continuing an annual $1,000 contract with the United Way.

Upcoming nonprofit decisions

At the 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, city council meeting, councilors may decide whether to keep United Way as the recommending agency for the health and human services funding.


Those in favor of using United Way liked the agency staff’s experience and knowledge of other requesting agencies.


Bill Huizinga, city councilor and vocal proponent of the Boys & Girls Clubs, said using the city council to decide nonprofit funding becomes a mess because each councilor has a favorite.


Opponents of using United Way prefer choosing as a council or not using public funds for nonprofits at all.

Erichsen said he believes United Way picks its favorite organizations and has advocated in past meetings for other agencies to make recommendations.


Councilor Ted Miller felt Huizinga was contradicting himself about not picking favorites but advocating for the Boys & Girls Clubs.


Susan Lorenzen, Hays and Mayor Pro-Tem Laura Dubois felt the proposed amount for the Boys & Girls Clubs and other nonprofits was sufficient and sustainable.


Lorenzen said in the past three years the council has agreed to give less so the Boys & Girls Clubs could become more self-sufficient.


The council could make a decision on funding nonprofits in late January or early February.


For more information, contact Sequim City Hall, 152 W. Cedar St., at 683-4139.


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