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North Bend nails down $12.5 million budget

Tuesday night, Dec. 7, the North Bend City Council voted on and

accepted its proposed year 2000 city budget. The action came after an

extensive slate of work-study meetings and a lot of long hours by the

city's staff and council members.

In several senses, the city dodged the bullet presented by the passage

of Initiative 695 in November. Several North Bend programs and

projects will continue as planned; in addition, the city staff was able to deliver a

budget that allowed a financial reserve in several areas.

Conversely, staff recommended and council approved the

elimination of five positions in the Community Services Department. Four

positions are currently vacant and will not be filled.

Clearing the fifth position will require a layoff, effective Dec. 31.

The position to be eliminated is that of building permit coordinator.

City Financial Officer Elena Montgomery made the final

presentations on the budget over two council meetings, Nov. 16 and Dec. 7.

Montgomery reiterated the city lost about $77,000 from the passage of

I-695, with the biggest hits coming through losses from the Motor Vehicle

and Camper Excise Taxes. However, she stressed the city could handle

the losses.

Among Washington cities, North Bend's financial losses resulting

from November's vote were comparatively minor. According to the

Association of Washington Cities, some communities lost from 30 to 40 percent

of their annual budgets. As a result, most cities have also gone through an

extended series of meetings and planning sessions in order to plug the holes.

The more substantial examples include Duvall, which came up

short by $348,000 from MVET and Sales Tax Equalization, or Oak Harbor

in Island County, which took a $776,000 hit from its general fund.

The budget Montgomery delivered totals $12,655,951 and includes a

general fund of $3,715,188. She characterized the document as one that

is balanced, while allowing North Bend to maintain financial reserves for

the general fund, utilities and equipment replacement. Hence, the city will

provide $1.5 million for the new Public Works Shop; provide a $561,830

operating budget with a reserve of $250,000; a sewer operating budget

of $889,500 with reserve of $150,000; and $635,000 for Phase IIA

improvements to the wastewater treatment plant. The equipment reserve fund

_ non-existent in 1996 _ will total $176,973 by the end of 2000.

Funding will also continue for the streets fund ($50,000) and

transportation plan ($50,000), as well as city services/programs, including

planning, community grants, parks, and police and fire services. Police

and parks will actually see increased funding next year.

Despite the loss of $20,474 in criminal justice funding, the city

will still continue to support agencies such as Friends of Youth, HUB,

Children's Services of Sno-Valley, and the food bank to the tune of $26,600.

According to Montgomery, unencumbered monies from the reserve fund will

be utilized to continue these programs, per the council's direction.

All of the personnel cuts came out of Building Services _ two

positions eliminated _ and Engineering Services. According to Community

Services Director Larry Stockton, the city will continue one engineering

slot under a contract-basis, but permit coordinator Trudy Stoltz will be let

go at the end of this month.

"In effect, our ability to provide service has been compromised

in building, planning and engineering," he stated Monday. "The most

severely impacted is building.

"I will put out a piece on how we're going to provide services

from the department. If you come in with any item that needs a quick

turnaround, don't expect results too fast. It's a hard message to convey,

but when you're down to one staff person in the building, you've got to draw

the line somewhere."

Stoltz has been with the city for eight years, Stockton added. He

advised if activity picks up and the council re-budgets the position, she

would be the first person considered for rehiring.

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