No tax increase in tentative budget

Published 7:46 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2007

By Staff
Washington officials prepare to begin work on spending plan
Contributing Editor
Although it’s still in the planning stages, Washington’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year calls for no increase in the city’s tax rates, according to Mayor Judy Meier Jennette.
Jennette said she and the council want to avoid a tax increase in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
City Manager James C. Smith completed his work on the proposed spending plan last week, Jennette said.
Smith didn’t mention any increase in fees said the mayor, who met with the city manager Friday to review budget items. Smith is on vacation this week.
Washington’s City Council is expected to receive copies of the proposed budget for the 2007-2008 fiscal year at its April 23 meeting, according to the council’s budget preparation schedule.
Gahagan said he expects the council and mayor to review the proposed budget line item by line item. They want to avoid, if possible, raising taxes and fees, Gahagan said. With the city manager submitted a spending plan that’s balanced, that helps the council and mayor in their attempt to keep from raising taxes and fees, Gahagan said.
Last year, Gahagan said, the council made moves to increase revenues and restructure some departments in an effort to run the city more efficiently and business-like.
Because most of its enterprise funds operated at deficits during the 2005-2006 fiscal year, the council hired an enterprise-funds controller to oversee those funds and make them more self-sufficient. Also, the city’s revenue stream is having problems keeping up with its expenditures stream in recent years.
In the past six months, city officials have been focusing on ways to increase revenues, cut expenses and better run the city.
Last year, the council increased the property-tax rate by five cents per $100 valuation. Water rates increased 4 percent. Wastewater treatment rates increased 5 percent. Fees for some building permits and fire inspections increased. Fees associated with emergency medical services increased by about 10 percent. Fees for opening graves and fees for monuments at city-owned cemeteries increased. Rental fees for the Peterson Building and the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center increased. Fees for use of the city-owned T-docks on the waterfront increased.
The city’s finance department will prepare the proposed budget document through April 20. The council’s first budget workshop is scheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 30. A second workshop is scheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. May 7. A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 14. Other budget workshops, which began at 4:30 p.m., are scheduled for May 21 and June 4.
The budget schedule calls for the council to adopt the budget and set the property-tax rate June 11.