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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."