News

Mayor proposes $18 million budget

NORTH BEND - Capital improvements to North Bend - among them, additional streetlights and road and sewer upgrades - highlight Mayor Joan Simpson's proposed 2003 budget.

"We're thinking that the year 2003 will be our crowning year of capital projects," she said in her budget address to the City Council Tuesday, Oct. 15. Next year, the city has 21 projects slated to be designed or constructed.

The overall 2003 proposed budget for North Bend is $18.1 million, which includes a $3.82 million general fund. This year, the general fund is $3.72 million and the total budget is $14.9 million.

Much of the increase in the overall budget can be attributed to a proposed $6.2 million public-safety building, said City Treasurer Elena Montgomery. A bond levy for the facility will be presented to voters next year.

Costs for constructing the public-safety building would be split between the city and King County Fire Protection District 38. The fire protection district is part of Eastside Fire and Rescue, which provides contract firefighting services to North Bend.

Other major capital projects include:

* Extension of Ballarat Avenue from Sixth Street to Eighth Street with culvert replacement.

* Design and construction of a sidewalk and bicycle trail along Bendigo Boulevard for the Heritage Corridor.

* Design and reconstruction of downtown sewer mains.

* Traffic lights at Bendigo Boulevard and Park Street and East North Bend Way and Ballarat Avenue.

While there is money available to improve the city's infrastructure, finding funding for North Bend's daily operations has been more of a challenge.

Voter-approved initiatives have reduced tax revenues, and a water moratorium - which was renewed for another six months at the council meeting - has prevented new development from occurring inside city limits, save for one large exception: AF Evans Development Inc.'s $21.7 million apartment complex.

North Bend has taken steps this year to save scarce general-fund dollars by not filling a vacant full-time position, reducing office hours and sending jail inmates to Yakima instead of King County.

More reductions are planned in 2003 under Simpson's proposed budget. Videotaping City Council meetings and printing a city newsletter were cut; contributions to equipment and technology reserve funds were slashed by one-half; and freezes were placed on hiring new staff and purchasing new technology and equipment. No cutbacks were made to public safety.

For the complete story, pick up a copy of this weeks Valley Record

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