Port Angeles City Council approves 2020 budget

$129.7 million spending plan includes restroom replacements

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles City Council has approved a 2020 budget that includes an expedited restroom replacement program.

The citywide budget, which the council passed on a 6-0 vote Tuesday, is balanced at $129.7 million.

It includes a $20.6 million general fund for core services and leaves a projected $5.3 million in general fund reserves going into 2021.

“A number of key council policy decisions have resulted in some good foundational work relative to the 2020 budget, particularly making sure that we’re making decisions for the long term, that we’re also thinking about some investment in capital improvements that perhaps have been put off for some time,” City Manager Nathan West told the council Tuesday.

“But ultimately, we feel that this budget is a very sustainable approach.”

Outgoing Mayor Sissi Bruch, who did not run for re-election this year, said the 2020 budget was a “huge improvement” from previous spending plans the city adopted during her eight years on the council.

“I think this was the best budget that I’ve seen in all of those years,” Bruch said at the meeting.

“I think the budget process got better and better and better and better.”

A previous draft of the citywide budget spent $75,000 per year to replace one public restroom every two years.

The council directed staff to identify more funding for the restroom replacement program in a first reading of the budget ordinance Nov. 19.

The final budget was amended to spend $150,000 annually to replace one public restroom every year.

The additional funding will come from real estate excise taxes.

“What we’ve done is we’ve increased the timeline for replacements,” Finance Director Sarina Carrizosa said.

“It will be one restroom per year.”

City staff has also applied for a lodging tax grant for a pilot project to provide a public restroom in downtown Port Angeles that could be kept open 24 hours.

Most public restrooms in city parks and on other city property close at dusk.

The citywide budget establishes annual spending levels for all departments and funds.

It is available on the city’s website.

Deputy Mayor Kate Dexter said the council’s concerns about the preliminary budget were addressed by staff.

“We’re not having to say ‘Well, OK, maybe next time,’ ” Dexter said.

“So I really appreciate that you were able to take what we requested and work it in. And I think people will be really grateful to have new bathrooms faster.”

Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin said his general concerns about deferred maintenance were addressed in the 2020 budget.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction overall as a city,” Schromen-Wawrin said.

“It doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect budget, but I’m very impressed by how it’s come through.”

Council member Mike French agreed that the final budget was sustainable.

He added that the city needs more funding for the Fire Department’s community paramedicine program and Police Department’s REdisCOVERY program, where an officer is embedded with a social worker.

“We’ve seen that the need in the community far outstrips the amount of resources that we have,” French said.

“We’re doing a lot of good work, but there’s a lot left to do. We still have some really big long-range financial challenges, but I think that having a sustainable budget is step one to solving those long-term issues.”

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

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