Port Angeles adopts 2019 budget

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles City Council has adopted a balanced budget for 2019.

The total city budget is $115.4 million and the general fund for day-to-day operations is $20 million, Acting Finance Director Sarina Carrizosa said.

Council members voted 7-0 to approve the budget after a second public hearing Tuesday.

Highlights of the budget included a 0.97 percent total utility rate increase for 2019. Residential water rates will rise by 5.4 percent and electric, solid waste collections, solid waste transfer station and stormwater rates will not change.

The budget provides a 2 percent cost of living raise for city employees, adds two Peninsula Communications dispatchers, restructures the information technology and street sweeper functions to achieve cost savings and invests $10.5 million in capital projects.

The general fund reserve will remain at $5.1 million in 2019, according to the budget. That meets a council directive of having a 25 percent reserve compared to general fund spending.

Early in the budget process, city staff identified a $1.2 million shortfall in projected revenues and expenditures.

“It took a great deal of work to put together a balanced budget,” City Manager Nathan West told the council Tuesday.

In the public hearing, former Clallam County Commissioner and Port Angeles resident Mike Doherty noted that the budget lacks funding for a climate action plan.

Doherty encouraged the city to develop a climate action plan and to implement climate-friendly strategies like electric vehicles and renewable energy purchases that would “start to bend the curve on climate change.”

“We are going to be starting that climate action plan in January,” Mayor Sissi Bruch said.

Another speaker questioned the lack of funding in the budget for code compliance.

“We had a significant gap to essentially fill between the difference of expenditures and revenues for 2019, and there simply wasn’t money available there to implement a new code compliance program,” West said.

“It’s extremely important that when we implement a new program that we can sustain it.”

West said the staff is committed to bringing “revenue options” to the City Council for a code compliance program, most likely within the auspices of the Port Angeles Police Department, for a possible launch in 2019.

“At this point, it’s not in the balanced budget, but I will tell you it’s something that we’re working hard on and we’re getting creative with finding some new revenue sources,” said West, who answered a similar question on code compliance in the first public hearing Nov. 20.

The final budget includes a breakdown of revenues and expenses that were previously identified as “miscellaneous” and “other.”

Council member Jim Moran had complained about the use of “miscellaneous” and “other” in budget documents in an October workshop.

“I really appreciate this information,” Moran told Carrizosa.

“This is what I was looking for when we talked about other, miscellaneous and those types of things.

“This detailed information was extremely helpful to me,” Moran added, “and I think it makes this document extremely transparent as opposed to just having categories of different expenditures and revenues.”

The 2019 city budget is available on the city’s website, www.cityofpa.us.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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