Walla Walla Council OKs budget

The spending plan passed unanimously Wednesday.

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WALLA WALLA -- City Manager Nabiel Shawa got his Christmas present early.

"Last year I only got four votes on the budget and this year I am hoping for five or six," Shawa said, shortly before the City Council voted unanimously 7-0 to approve his 2012 budget, which includes a $24 million general fund, on Wednesday.

"Congratulations to you, Mr. Shawa. Merry Christmas," Mayor Barbara Clark added. Early on, the 2012 budget -- which is the second half of the city's current biennial budget -- had a few issues that portended anything but unanimous approval.

Last month, the Council asked staff to put $77,000 back into street funding; staff made the requested change.

The Council also questioned the use of infrastructure funds to support the nonprofit group Commitment To Community.

Staff explained that group will act as a subcontractor fulfilling specific duties and services, and freeing up the time of engineers.

The $15,000, Shawa added, is a "not-to-exceed" amount for helping to inform and prepare residents of Edith and Carrie avenues for what will be the city's largest infrastructure project to date.

Council had also questioned the "sweeping" of excess Local Improvement District funds into the general fund.

Support Services Director Tim McCarty explained that the "excess funds" had actually originated from the general fund.

McCarty later explained that at the time of the origination of the Downtown LID, cities were required to maintain an excess of 10 percent in revenues in an LID, and that this 10 percent came from the general fund.

Finally, staff assured the Council that it had a plan other than layoffs to deal with the possibility that sales tax and other revenues may still come in lower than projected.

Shawa said the city willdelay filling current vacancies until it is clear that the revenues would come in as projected.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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