PORT ANGELES — A somber Port Angeles City Council conducted a first reading on the 2020 city budget Tuesday after sharing memories of a late colleague.
The council began its business meeting with a 20-minute tribute to Jim Moran, who died in his sleep late last Friday or early Saturday at the age of 71.
Sunflowers and ball caps were placed on the end of the council dais where Moran served for nearly two years.
“He’s touched a lot of people in a lot of ways,” Mayor Sissi Bruch told members of Moran’s family, who were seated in the front row.
“I, too, personally want to say thank you for sharing Jim with us.”
Later in the meeting, the council conducted a first reading on a $129.4 million total city budget that maintains core services, pays down debt and was balanced without the use of general fund reserves.
The council will consider adopting a final 2020 budget after a second reading and public hearing Dec. 3.
“Our city is fiscally sound,” City Finance Director Sarina Carrizosa told the council.
“Our fund balances are healthy. … We feel like we’re in a good position.”
The proposed budget includes $12.9 million for such capital projects as street improvements and a new railing at City Pier.
“We have continued to reinvest in our capital projects, infrastructure, personnel and our community,” Carrizosa said.
“And our cost-of-service analysis that we have built, the methodologies that were approved, have really helped us with our utilities to ensure that we’re being fair and affordable to our citizens.”
The general fund budget for core city services spends $21.6 million and leaves $5.3 million in reserve, according to an attachment to the budget ordinance.
“It’s important to share that due to years of council policy and decision making, council has enabled the city to attain an excellent financial foundation for years to come,” City Manager Nathan West said at the meeting.
“Council’s commitment to attain no new debt and pay off existing debt has resulted in responsible fund balances and a mindset that looks towards our future and not just the needs of today.”
After a lengthy discussion on the Parks Department’s plan for replacing public restrooms, the council voted 6-0 to direct staff to identify more funding for public restrooms in the 2020 budget.
Parks Director Corey Delikat said the city plans to set aside $75,000 annually and replace one restroom every two years, beginning with the facility on Ediz Hook.
The council also had applied for $200,000 in lodging tax funds for a pilot project to provide a restroom that could be open 24 hours.
“I think that the pilot project should be a high priority,” Council member Mike French said.
Council member Cherie Kidd’s motion to add $10,000 to the 2020 budget for the Clallam County Economic Development Corp. failed by 4-2 vote.
Clallam County and the cities of Sequim and Forks have made financial commitments to the EDC, a nonprofit that works to help local businesses.
“There’s an obvious omission from the city of Port Angeles, so I’d like us to consider partnering with the EDC,” Kidd said.
Council member Michael Merideth said the city had not yet seen the benefits of past payments to the EDC.
“We throw a lot of dollars at it,” Merideth said. “We get a lot of graphs, charts, hopes, wishes, dreams.
“They’ve had some changeovers there, and I understand the point of being a good partner with the rest of our municipalities in the county,” Merideth added.
“But right now, I have yet to see specific things that the EDC has brought in that brings something that wouldn’t have come otherwise.”
In other budget-related news, the council voted 6-0 to approve the allowed one-tenth of 1 percent property tax increase for 2020 collections.
The 1 percent increase will generate $46,437 for general services and bring the total levy amount to $4.7 million, city officials said.
Earlier in the meeting, West said that Moran relished budget discussions and “greatly looked forward to tonight’s meeting.
“We greatly appreciate the time and service that Jim dedicated to the city,” West said.
The council is expected to begin discussing the process for selecting someone to complete Moran’s two-year unexpired term Dec. 3.
Deputy Mayor Kate Dexter and others remembered Moran for his kindness.
“We can disagree, but we can still treat each other with kindness, and I just really appreciated that about him,” Dexter said.
A celebration of Moran’s life is scheduled for noon Saturday at the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. Seventh St.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].