PA budget adds six positions

City balances its plan without using reserves

PORT ANGELES — The 2024 Port Angeles city budget adds six new positions and provides stable funding for five others.

The spending plan totals $178,350,300, including $16.5 million in capital projects carried over from 2023. It is an overall 10.1 percent increase compared to 2023. The council approved the budget in a unanimous vote at its Dec. 5 meeting.

“I think the staff has worked really hard to provide a balanced budget, and one thing we’ve been asking for as a council is increasing the city’s capacity by bringing on additional staff,” council member LaTrisha Suggs said.

“Bringing on staff that can help with permits and housing and also with utilities,” she said.

Finance Director Sarina Carrizosa said the budget was balanced without using reserves, which kept them at 25 percent of the general fund budget per city policy, she said.

The six new positions are a stormwater technician to comply with National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System requirements, a natural resources/grant planner position, a project manager to assist with project completion and reduce the cost of project consultants, an electrician to assist with project completion and permit requirements, a grant administrator to identify state and federal grants for infrastructure needs, and a fleet mechanic to assist with maintaining the city’s aging vehicle fleet.

The budget also funds a community development technician from proposed permit fees; permanently incorporates the communications and records management coordinator, front desk attendant and housing administrator positions, and retains the downtown resource officer, which is partially funded by downtown businesses.

“In the last few years, the federal government has made trillions of dollars available to cities and counties and states to work on infrastructure toward more resiliency,” council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin said.

The money is available now, and if the city doesn’t have the staff capacity to apply for those grants, it will miss that opportunity, he said.

“So this is staffing up to have that additional capacity to access the resources,” he said. “Otherwise, our community will fall behind.

“And, frankly, if we say, ‘Hey, we didn’t upgrade our wastewater system when we should have.’ And people say, ‘Well, why didn’t you apply for the grants?’ And not having enough staff is not a good excuse.”

In response to a public comment, City Manager Nathan West said the natural resources planner position will handle such aspects as State Environmental Policy Act reviews, shoreline master program reviews and long-range projects, such as comprehensive plan updates.

“And in addition to that, take advantage of the many grant opportunities that are out there and ensuring that we are maximizing every grant opportunity that is out there that exist and hopefully bringing that back as revenue for some of the future needs of this community, including capital projects,” he said.

The budget also includes six new revenue sources for the city:

• 0.1 percent transportation benefit district tax increase

• Review fees to offset cost of service

• 0.1 percent 9-1-1 tax increase

• Vacant property fee

• Short-term rental fee

• Border area fuel tax

City spokeswoman Jessica Straits wrote in a Monday email that, in 2022, the city added 15 positions in the solid waste division of public works, and they were the result of the transition to city operations at the transfer station.

“In all instances when new positions are created, the city carefully considers need and ensures there are revenue sources available, including grant funding, to offset the cost of providing new services prior to any recommendations in the Budget,” Straits wrote.

“The city has continued to fill vacancies for existing positions, most recently with 52 positions filled in 2022 and 35 filled (so far) for 2023.”


Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at

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