A water rate increase, the completion of West Fir Street and odor control at the Water Reclamation Facility are some of the proposals on tap for the City of Sequim’s 2020 budget.
City councilors will consider approving the $37.7 million budget at their Nov. 25 meeting.
In his budget message, City Manager Charlie Bush said, “This budget is a balancing act between meeting the increasing demands of a growing community and improving service levels within the constraints of our resources.”
In 2020, we see continued positive economic activity that is reflected conservatively in our resources across the organization,” he said.
“We will continue to utilize these resources to support street operations, equipment and replacement reserves, to fund debt service and centralized general fund services as well as council priorities to a greater degree.”
Water rates possibly going up
City staff propose a 4-percent increase to water rates but no increase to sewer rates or General Facility Charges for new development.
The average impact to a monthly bill is an increase of $1.21, Bush said.
Last year, city councilors approved a 6-percent water increase and a 2 percent sewer rate decrease following a consultants’ plan to increase utility revenues by 4 percent over six years.
A proposed utility rate study for 2020 was voted down by city councilors but as of Nov. 25, a decision had not been made on some form of a utility rate study.
“Growth in the number of our sewer customers, including regional support of Carlsborg residents and businesses and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, has resulted in strong financial performance for that fund,” Bush said.
“The water rate increase is important to maintain the financial health of our utility operations and to meet our current and future debt service requirements, while also maintaining our target reserve levels.”
City staff continue to propose a low income discount for qualifying city residents.
They also propose the allowed 1-percent property tax levy increase on households — traditionally equalling about $13,000-$14,000 more each year for the city.
Fir Street set for completion
Next year’s proposed budget includes $4.5 million for streets, $1.8 million for sewer projects, $872,000 for water projects (minus the utility study), $303,000 for stormwater, $250,000 for parks and $966,000 for facilities.
The biggest project remains completion of repairing West Fir Street by Sequim schools with $3.4 million of street funds going towards the project. City staff said its completion is tentatively slated for late spring.
One of the contentious parts of the budget includes $350,000 for the South Sequim Avenue Complete Streets project.
In the city’s proposed budget packet, it states, “The 12 block (1.5 mile) city street corridor in Sequim will directly connect the two Economic Opportunity Areas from the west to the east side of the downtown area.”
Residents along Prairie Street have spoken against the plan saying it’ll bring more traffic to the street and make it less safe.
The city’s budget statement says “the City desires to make an example of this project by implementing Complete Streets principles to create safe and multi-modal transportation options, manage and treat stormwater using LID, and revitalize the existing residential neighborhood.”
Another sizable project includes $350,000 for completing sidewalk from the Sequim Avenue roundabout between Old Olympic Highway and Hendrickson Road.
City staff also propose $230,000 for citywide pavement rehabilitation and $52,000 for sidewalk repair.
Less smell, flooding
Delayed from this year’s budget, city staff look to install a mechanical filtering odor control device to minimize odor pollution at the Water Reclamation Facility for $335,000.
In the city’s proposed $872,000 in water projects, it includes various water main replacements and repairs and a new well, while with sewer it includes multiple repairs and replacements along with $1.1 million for adding capacity at the reclamation facility for treatment.
Using grants worth about $303,000, city staff plan to upgrade stormwater treatment at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Washington street to prevent flooding, and retrofit discharge into Bell Creek from North Brown Road.
Parks and buildings
Two funding aspects are proposed for parks next year with $50,000 for a parks impact fee study and $200,000 for right-of-way purchase for future park development.
The People’s Project, a new effort to engage the public to vote for specific projects, was added to the park’s budget, with 13 water stations added to city parks at a cost of about $63,000.
Aside from ongoing debt payment of $660,00 for the Sequim Civic Center as one of the largest building costs, city staff anticipate paying about $816,000 for a new fuel station between the city shop and South Third Avenue.
The city budget packet states “the tank will be a split tank for gasoline and diesel” with the city “the primary user of the fuel station daily and for emergencies (and) other jurisdictions will have access to fuel during emergencies.”
Other facility budget items include $100,000 to finish the Guy Cole Event Center’s meeting room ($100,000) and upgrade the Emergency Operations Center’s Internet Technology inside the former Sequim Transit Center for $50,000.
Staffing, funding, services
Of the $20.2 million in operations, about $9.7 million is anticipated for salaries and benefits in 2020, which is up 7.6 percent from this year.
Next year, city leaders budgeted for 84.88 full time staff, up from 82.25 this year and 78.18 in 2018. The new total includes a full-time paralegal, full-time development review engineer, a part-time (0.38) Police Department emergency management coordinator and a part-time, grant-funded intern (0.25).
Bush said the city will continue to cross-train and plan for succession because of retirements, too.
City leaders said Sequim’s revenues are projected to increase 8 percent from conservative estimates this year.
Health and human service contracts tentatively continue next year with $86,144 proposed for the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Information Center, $75,000 for human service contracts, $20,000 for the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), $12,000 for Service Fest and $5,000 for the Small Business Development Corporation.
For more about the city’s budget, visit https://www.sequimwa.gov/886/2020-Proposed-Budget or call 360-683-4139.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.