Port Townsend approves proposed budget

Balance sheet focuses on stability

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend City Council members have adopted on a first reading a 2023 budget that includes funding for 11 new city positions.

The council, which acted on Monday, will have a second reading and take a final vote on the budget on Dec. 5.

The budget plans $48,836,451 in spending out of $49,837,970, with the largest expenditures going to city services and staff salaries.

“City-wide, we have balanced that budget with our estimated revenues versus our estimated expenditures,” city Finance Director Connie Anderson told the council Monday.

According to Anderson’s presentation on spending in 2023, $12.7 million will be paid to salaries, wages and benefits and $12.3 million to city services. Of the city’s revenues, taxes made up the largest portion with $12.8 million and charges for goods and services brought in another $12.1 million.

Included in the city’s proposed budget is funding for 11 new city positions, including a long-range planner; a communications and marketing manager; a deputy police chief; a human resources assistant; an in-house behavioral health navigator; a housing grant coordinator and five seasonal workers for parks, streets and facilities.

According to Anderson, the marketing manager, deputy police chief and HR assistant would be funded through the city’s general funds, while the long-range planner, navigator and housing grants coordinator were grant-funded.

The seasonal workers are an annual appropriation from city funds, Anderson said.

Capital projects included in the budget include library windows and doors, City Hall improvements, restrooms at Kah Tai Park, the Sims Way and Boatyard expansions, and water and sewer utility capital projects.

“When we return on Dec. 5, we will have more detail on the capital projects,” Anderson said.

The budget also includes plans to pay off debt the city is holding.

“The 2023 proposed budget reflects a transfer out of the general fund to cover the full payoff amount of the two short-term bonds that remain,” Anderson said. “After meeting with debt council, staff will be able to recommend the best option.”

The city also raised an additional $3.8 million in property tax revenue, which includes the 1 percent annual increase allowed under state law and an adjustment for new construction, and a lid lift for the library generating $1.2 million, according to the city manager’s budget review.

“It’s not a 1 percent rate increase, it’s a 1 percent revenue increase,” Mayor David Faber said. “Which means that, yes indeed, especially this year, that 1 percent lags far behind the general rate of inflation.”

No public comment was given Monday evening, which council member Owen Rowe attributed to satisfaction with the city’s budget process.

“The lack of comment is not representative of lack of interest but representative of satisfaction and relief at the clarity and also the content of the budget,” Rowe said.

“It really balances the strategic priorities that we’ve talked about in a very reasonable way, and we don’t really have anything to argue about.”

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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