College Place budget a smidge higher for 2010

One aspect that will be noticeable to property owners is a water rate increase.

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COLLEGE PLACE — Finances took center stage at a City Council meeting Monday as a new budget, property tax levy and water rate increase were approved.

Totaling about $19.4 million, the city’s 2010 budget was approved unanimously by council members. Revenues and expenditures are projected to be slightly under last year’s total of about $19.5 million. "It’s basically a status-quo budget," said City Administrator Pat Reay.

As in past years the largest portion of the budget, 27 percent, is slated for the current expense fund which pays for much of the city’s day-to-day operations. The amount projected this year is about $5.3 million, up from the approximately $4.9 million included in last year’s budget.

The next-largest sums in the budget are about $2.1 million for the city wastewater fund, about 11 percent of the total, and about $1.9 million for the economic development fund, about 10 percent of the total.

The recession took its toll on the city’s assessed property value which dropped from $545 million in 2009 to $528 million in 2010, Reay said. However, despite the drop in new construction, there is "still some healthy development" going on in the city, he told council members.

The property tax levy approved Monday included a 1 percent increase, the maximum allowed by state law. Total property tax collections for 2010 will be $1,107,147 with an additional $217,370 to be collected from a voter-approved bond which financed construction of the city fire station.

According to information presented at the council’s Nov. 5 meeting, property owners will see an increase of about 14 cents per $1,000 in the combined property tax levy rate. This will equate to a $14.43 increase for a $100,000 home. However, if a person’s property valuation drops, they may actually see a decrease in their property tax, said Robert Zielfelder, city finance director.

The water rate increase will raise the base charge for both residential and businesses by $3, according to the ordinance. The increase will be dedicated for paying off debt incurred for water system improvements.

The increase will change the residential base charge from $19.85 to $22.85 and the business base charge from $29 to $32, according to the ordinance.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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