With the City of Sequim’s Civic Center constructed, City Manager Charlie Bush anticipates 2016’s operations being closer to 2014’s funding levels.
City staff revealed a $28.1 million proposed budget on Sept. 28 at the Sequim City Council meeting for next year that includes slight increases for city residents in utilities and property taxes.
“I feel we’re in a good spot with the budget,” Bush said. “It balances both the short term and long term.”
Over the next two months, staff will discuss each department’s budget and capital projects on Oct. 12 and Oct. 26, with public hearings on Nov. 9 and Nov. 23. City councilors will possibly adopt the budget on Nov. 23.
Bush said the budget is balanced and will put money into several new capital projects such as $800,000 for streets, $226,000 for parks, $1.6 million for water, $1.7 million for sewer and $263,000 for facilities.
“The theme for this budget is stable, sustainable and getting us back to normal,” Bush said.
The 2015 budget worth $37.9 million saw many departments reduce costs.
Part of the 2016 proposed budget includes a 3 percent increase for water and 2.5 percent increase in utilities following a Water and Sewer systems study from 2013-2014 that proposes annual rate increases to pay for deteriorating infrastructure.
Administrative Services Director Sue Hagener said the increases equate to about $1.12 in water for those who use 1,000 cubic feet of water and a $1.72 increase for sewer users per month.
For larger units, like strip malls, she said they are considering eliminating per unit charges and going toward charges based on meter size.
Hagener said they propose to continue the utilities low-income discount, which 40 households use.
Along with the utilities, city staff proposed approving the 1-percent tax levy. Last year, city councilors approved the increase that they estimated would generate about $13,000 this year.
As for city staffing, they’ve planned for 75.54 full-time staff in 2016 at about $7.6 million for salary and benefits. The previous three years it was at 76.29 full-time staff. Staff make up 48.4 percent of the total budget.
Bush, in his budget message, said salaries and benefits for police sergeants and police officer still are being negotiated. There also is a planned 1 percent salary increase for non-union employees like Bush and other department heads.
He said they continue to forecast upcoming retirements, too, with several employees nearing that point.
A few other proposals in the budget include:
• Spending $665,000 on general obligation debt for the Civic Center.
• Approving contracts of $77,820 to the Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Information Center, $5,000 to the Clallam Economic Development Council and $75,000 in human service contracts to various nonprofit agencies.
• Eliminating the banner fee and creating a $200 installation fee for follow-through signs and a $35 annual permit.
• Planning for revenues to go up 5 percent and expenses up 3 percent and moving some revenue back into streets and equipment reserves.
• Paying off Keeler Park in December 2016 instead of 2018.
For more information on the proposed budget, visit www.sequimwa.gov.