City begins budget process

SNOQUALMIE _ City Council members got their first look at

departmental budgets for next year at a workshop meeting Sept. 19. But by the

time they received the preliminary reports, there wasn't much work to be done.

Scheduled for eight hours over two nights, the budget workshop took

a fraction of that time. In years past, department heads arrived at the

budget workshops with a large number of requests that would be pruned

down by city staff and the council.

"Historically, everybody came together with a wish list and said, `I

want this and this and this,'" explained Mayor Randy "Fuzzy" Fletcher

to council members.

City Administrator Gary Armstrong said that this year the

vast majority of the cutting was done prior to the meeting with council members.

"It was a completely balanced budget when we walked in the door,"

he said during the workshop held at City Hall.

It needed to be balanced because 2001 will be the first year that the

city will be without the shortfall agreement with Weyerhaeuser Real Estate

Co., which began in 1996. Since the addition of Snoqualmie

Ridge, Snoqualmie has operated under a complicated agreement with

WRECO, which has contributed money to the city's budget so the city can

provide services. But this year, the agreement ended.

"The shortfall ended in the middle of the year," Armstrong said. "We

had to stand on our own; we are standing on our own."

Some major changes for 2001 include the separation of the Parks

Department from the Planning Department. There is also a new

Irrigation Department, which will be funded by revenues from customers.

One thing that will help the city stand on its own is its assessed

valuation. Preliminary figures for 2001 estimate an assessed valuation of

$306.1 million, not including new construction. That is up from $220.7

million in 2000. Since 1994, the assessed valuation was $110.4 million. that

number has jumped by a whopping $249.7 million.

"It's a significant change in revenues that we've absolutely needed

in order to balance," Armstrong said.

For the Department of Public Safety, Chief Don Isley is asking

for additional personnel for the fire and police divisions. The fire

division would add an entry-level firefighter position and promote a

current firefighter to lieutenant to meet the growing workload.

"The lieutenant will be able to take care of some of the duties on

days," he said.

The police division would gain a public safety officer to help

with records, evidence and prisoner transfers. Isley said the city would

receive money from the federal COPS grant to help pay for the position, with

the city paying $14,000.

With the amount of construction on Snoqualmie Ridge, the

Building Department is doing four times the work of similar

departments, Armstrong said. It is asking for another building inspector.

"Anybody who's been out on the Ridge to see the workload (can

see) it's phenomenal," Armstrong said.

The Public Works Department has added a part-time worker to its

2001 budget, and in the Parks Department, Parks Superintendent, Jeff

Mumma, would become parks manager while adding one full-time parks worker

and two seasonal employees.

The city will also begin tackling some ambitious projects next

year, including; rebuilding Park Street ($490,000), building a

pedestrian/equestrian bridge over the Snoqualmie River ($665,000), reconstructing

Lift Station No. 1 ($700,000), conducting a State Route 202 corridor

study ($230,000), replacing sidewalks along Maple Street ($250,000) and

Park Street ($160,000), replacing telemetry systems for city wells and the

reservoir ($100,000), installing corrosion control facilities and disinfecting

the Canyon Springs source ($821,000), conducting a downtown

economic study ($30,000), adding to geographic information systems' mapping

capabilities ($80,000) and completing a site evaluation for a new fire

station on Snoqualmie Ridge ($30,000). Many of the projects would

receive funding from both state and federal government.

New vehicles are proposed for several departments, including a new

police car, a Jeep Cherokee for the Parks and Irrigation Department, a

pickup for the Water Department and a five-year lease on a new street sweeper.

With those additions, there is enough money left to create a

"rainy-day fund" for the city. Armstrong

said that by the end of 2001, Snoqualmie would have $220,000 in

restricted emergency and contingency funds. Over the coming years, he said,

the city would add to the fund.

"It's a good step toward that million (dollars) that we would like

to have there for an emergency," he said. "We want it to truly be an

emergency fund; that's the way we have it set up."

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