As part of the City of Sequim’s 2022 budget set at $31.7 million, city councilors on Nov. 22 agreed to no tax rate increases.
That includes no water or sewer rate increases in 2022, and the 1 percent property tax levy allowed by law will not be implemented on homeowners.
The budget passed Nov. 22 by a vote of 5-2, with Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell and Rachel Anderson opposed.
Some councilors, including Mayor William Armacost, expressed frustration towards city staff that an ordinance to rescind a March 22 decision to raise future councilors’ pay wasn’t prepared for the meeting. Armacost made a motion anyway, and in a 4-3 vote the council agreed to rescind the raises.
New city manager Matt Huish said city staff did not intend to keep the ordinance off the meeting agenda.
In 2022, the capital projects budget is about $2 million less than this year, from $6 million to $4 million. Sarah VanAusdle, interim public works director, said in a phone interview that staff are trying to “be realistic.”
She said, “We’ve been short staffed, so we’re taking that into account.”
One project includes a $540,000 payment (85 percent of that from a grant) to Lakeside Industries for an overlay on West Washington Street from River Road to Ninth Avenue starting in the spring.
Another project to improve the North Sequim Avenue roundabout and install a sidewalk on the west side of North Sequim Avenue from the roundabout to Hendrickson Road comes at an estimated cost of $400,000 — including $181,000 from a Safe Route to School grant — with construction expected to start sometime in 2022.
VanAusdle said city staff continue to identify the needs in city parks, including $50,000 toward new playground equipment for toddlers at Margaret Kirner Park and Carrie Blake Community Park.
“We’re waiting for the Parks Master Plan to be completed (with tentative adoption before March 1) and then we’ll be eligible for grants,” she said.
“Playground equipment is in need of replacement, and it’s very expensive.”
City staffing is expected to increase to 89.21 full time equivalent staffers per 1,000 residents with salaries and benefits at an approximate $10.4 million.
The budget does not include a previously proposed $8,000 for Sequim School District’s care closet program.
Councilor Brandon Janisse proposed the funds on Nov. 8 go to Sequim School District’s Care Closet program, which includes providing hygiene products, clothes, toiletries and more to any and all students. It was not moved forward by council nor voted on.
A few councilors objected, with Mike Pence wanting to know if it was legal to fund a school district program through the city. Sue Hagener, director of administrative services, said they require a contract before disbursing funds to any agency and that all current contracts with service agencies, such as the Boys & Girls Club, go before council for periodic review.
Pence said he doesn’t think funding the care closet program seems appropriate, that the city spends too much on health and human service contracts, and the city should review the contracts individually.
“One agency is teaching critical race theory and I don’t think we should be funding that,” Pence said; he did not clarify which agency.
Councilor Keith Larkin agreed they need to review the contracts more because “we tend to fund things and tend to forget about them.”
Hagener said on Nov. 22 that contingency dollars could support the program through a contract if needed, but Janisse said he’s planning a different route to support the program.
Next year, the city supports health and human service contracts at $75,000, and community services contracts and economic development contracts at $30,000 each.
For more about the City of Sequim’s 2022 budget, visit sequimwa.gov/1002/2022-Proposed-Budget.
Sequim city council next meets in a virtual meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13.