News

City council considers $20.6 million budget

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

The City of Sequim’s proposed $20.6 million 2012 balanced budget goes up for approval this Monday at the Nov. 14 city council meeting.

 

Staff recommendations remain in place for a proposed 2-percent increase in both sewer and water rates that would cost $1.06 to $1.22 per month for single-family residences in sewer and 54 cents more per month for water. The city’s revenue would be about $32,000 from water and $64,000 from sewer fees.

City staff said the increase would help pay for an expansion of the water reclamation plant and maintaining the new Albert Haller Playfields.

A low-income discount would continue for qualifying single-family residences, but not multi-family customers. Councilor Ted Miller asked staff to continue seeking a solution for multi-family residences in an act of fairness. City Manager Steve Burkett proposes not increasing the property tax levy by 1 percent, which would have brought in slightly less than $13,000.

 

Homeowners save about $2 with the decision, but the city can bank the money for a later date. Burkett cites other fee increases and financial hardships as his reason for holding off on the levy.

 

Other proposed increased and new fees include:

 

• Raising the infraction of parking in a disabled/handicap space from $250 to $450 to line up with the District Court Bail Schedule.

 

• A $100 fireworks refundable clean-up deposit on top of the Fireworks Sales Permit of $100.

 

• A $15 events fee for temporary signs on private property to recover staff time issuing applications.

 

• $50 per hour services fee after the first hour for Department of Community Development for research of projects taking staff away from their regular duties, including requests for permit costs, land use, building and large projects, etc.

Council goals

City council goals remain funded in the next year.

 

Burkett said money remains in reserves for the future Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Battelle) annexation but staff is waiting for an annexation request from the lab’s corporate headquarters.

 

The city’s Downtown Plan sees some improvements for streets including new angled parking on Cedar and Bell streets, treatment of crosswalks and intersections, and improving the alleyway on Etta Street while making a connection to Pioneer Park.

 

Burkett said in reaction to the citizens surveys, they’ve set aside funds to complete the Olympic Discovery Trail through Sequim and allocated $900,000 to maintain streets and $50,000 for redesign of streetscapes and way-finding signs. A one-time dipping into the reserves for $130,000 remains in the budget to pay for training a replacement for the city’s retiring mechanic and to cover the fringe benefits and replacements for two police officers deployed to Afghanistan.

 

Burkett said they’ll continue watching expenditures and are going to have to work hard in the future to keep the  budget in balance.

New signal and park entrance

Two interesting projects look to be under way next year including a traffic signal at the intersection of Fir Street and Sequim Avenue, and a revamped entry to Carrie Blake Park.

 

Burkett said the city’s planned Transportation Master Plan update should give them the best option for a traffic signal to make it easier for pedestrians and vehicles to cross the intersection.

 

One option, at about $100,000, is a half signal that would stop only north and south traffic, tripping a signal when a car or pedestrian came up to the signal going east or west. A traditional traffic signal would cost about $250,000. Burkett said the cheapest option is installing a four-way stop. City councilors told Burkett that the intersection is critical.

 

Paul Haines at the city council’s Oct. 24 meeting, said a proposed $30,000 redesign of the entrance of Carrie Blake Park would move between the Sequim Skate Park and Trinity United Methodist Church. This would eliminate the dirt bike park.

 

He said one of the reasons for the move is safety by eliminating vehicle traffic between the two playgrounds.

 

Contact the City of Sequim, 152 W. Cedar St., at 683-4139.

 

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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