North Bend: No need for tax increase

Citing concerns with the state of the economy, the North Bend City Council will not seek their allowed 1 percent levy increase next year.

The council confirmed its stance in recent discussions on the 2010 budget, which is up for council approval Dec. 8.

While Mayor Ken Hearing attempted to persuade the council of the merits of the increase, council members felt otherwise.

“The city of North Bend has been lucky,” Councilman Alan Gothelf said. “We have managed our past and future budgets very wisely and have not accumulated a tremendous amount of debt.” He believes North Bend can find resources elsewhere.

North Bend’s 2010 budget is expected to be about $31 million, with a general fund of about $6.6 million. The budget has grown about 29 percent from 2009, with the general fund rising about 13 percent.

Growth is attributable partly to North Bend’s recent Tanner annexation. The budget also rose on account of the new local utility district and park-and-ride projects that North Bend has acquired.

City Administrator Duncan Wilson said the city was able to carry over $250,000 in savings from the 2009 budget to 2010. Initially, the carryover was about $1 million, with about $600,0000 going to the city’s reserve fund and an additional $150,000 extra reserve added due to the condition of the current economy.

The city’s four major revenue sources are property tax, sales tax, utility tax, business and occupation tax and other services.

Even with extraordinary expenses due to the city’s Centennial celebration this year, the city did not have to cut the budget.

Expanding the city by a third, lowering spending and having discretionary spending go down was a big help, Wilson said.

The 1 percent tax increase was approved in Snoqualmie. Hearing said that if economic conditions worsen for North Bend, an increase may one day be inevitable there, too.

“Eventually if times get tighter for North Bend, they will take it,” Hearing said. “But since we’re doing OK now, they think there is no reason.

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