College Place Council OKs budget

The spending plan will continue operations at the current level, the city finance director said.

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COLLEGE PLACE -- The City Council approved the city's 2012 budget Monday, but looming cutbacks in state funding could eat into city finances next year.

After a public hearing that drew no speakers, council members voted 6-0 to pass the budget. Councilwoman Marge Nyhagen was absent.

In a memo to Council members, city Finance Director Robert Zielfelder said the $18.9 million budget will continue city operations at the current level with a number of capital improvement projects slated for completion.

But, he said, "this could be a challenging year to continue to provide the same levels of service" as the city is currently operating.

One particular worry is cuts in state revenue sharing proposed to help close a $2 billion shortfall in the state budget. Those cuts will be among measures considered when the Legislature meets in special session starting Nov. 28.

"Currently the city has the potential of losing up to $150,034 in annual revenues if all the cuts are implemented..." Zielfelder wrote. The city could face additional costs for law enforcement training should the city hire any new police officers.

The 2012 budget does not have any newly created positions in it, Zielfelder said in the memo, but if cash flow allows, a vacant position patrol officer position in the Police Department will be filled.

One bright spot is that passage of Initiative 1183, which will privatize the state's liquor sales, will not allow the state to reduce the liquor excise and profits tax that local jurisdictions receive for two years, Zielfelder wrote. Under the 2012 budget, the city expects to receive a total of $106,250 in shared revenue from liquor control board profits and liquor excise taxes.

At the Council's Oct. 24 meeting, City Administrator Pat Reay said the 2012 budget will be about $3 million less than this year's budget due to spending on capital projects. The city's 2011 budget totaled slightly more than $21 million.

Five funds in the city's budget have major projects slated for this year. The total expenditures for all of them is about $3.7 million.

The five projects are:

The Fourth Street and Larch Avenue pavement overlay.

Engineering services for the College Avenue-Rose Street Project.

Completion of the Whitman Central Corridor Project.

Completion of the final phase of Eastside Water Improvement Project.

An energy efficiency project at the city wastewater treatment plant.

As in years past, the largest portion of the budget is the current expense fund, which pays for much of the city's day-to-day operations. The 2012 budget calls for about $5.1 million, down from the $5.4 million budgeted in 2011.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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