Port Townsend OKs its budget for 2024

Reflects more than $60 million in expenses

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council approved a $60.8 million budget for 2024 on Monday evening, drawing nearly $2 million in reserve funds to balance expenses.

The budget, approved unanimously by council members, allocates the more than $60 million across the city’s seven funds while total revenues amount to just over $59 million. The city’s total ending fund balance for 2023 was $27.3 million and the projected ending fund balance for 2024 is $25.5 million across all funds.

“Unlike federal budgets, a local budget must be balanced,” said Director of Finance and Technology Services Connie Anderson. “That means we have to have an actual revenue source in order to put an item in the budget.”

Also Monday, the council made permanent two tax increases to the city’s sewer and solid waste utilities that were set to expire on Dec. 31.

The city imposes an 18 percent utility tax on the revenues of the storm and surface water; water system and sewer utilities and 1.5 percent of that tax was set to expire at the end of the month.

Similarly, a 2 percent tax on the city’s 22 percent tax on revenues of the solid waste utility was set to expire at the same time. Rather than extend those tax increases another two years, the council voted to extend the increases indefinitely.

“This is unquestionably a regressive tax,” Mayor David Faber said. “That is unfortunately what we are left with now until the state allows us to adopt a more progressive form of taxation. We are in a bind to pay for basic services, so this is unfortunately the best option.”

The city’s general fund is allocated for $15.9 million in expenses for 2024 with $14.4 million in revenues. An additional $486,000 will be used from the city’s fund balance to put seed funding toward a facilities fund to help the city better deal with maintenance needs.

The city’s largest expenditure was from the enterprise fund, which covers revenue-generating services of the city such as sewer and water. That fund was budgeted for $23.3 million but projected to raise $23.9 million in revenues.

The city’s capital projects fund is budgeted for $6.1 million, mostly for streets, while bringing in $4.8 million in revenues.

The budget also included $1.9 million of the city’s remaining American Rescue Plan Act funding, which gave the city $2.7 million in 2022.

Council members asked few questions regarding the budget at the meeting and no public comment was given.

Council member Amy Howard noted the state law requiring local budgets to be fully balanced means many of the city’s needs do not appear on the annual budget.

“We have a hidden deficit that we cannot account for in this budget,” Howard said. “Critical unfunded needs don’t get a mention like they should.”

The city also raised its property taxes by the allowable 1 percent, but Faber noted that revenue was not enough to keep up with inflation in typical years at an average of 2 percent.

Inflation in the past three years has been particularly high, rising as high as 9.1 percent in 2022 and currently at 3.7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The city’s revenue as a percentage of your income, of property values, et cetera, is going down over time,” Faber said.

“In the last few years, it’s been particularly problematic for the city even finding the money to keep the doors open and do the things that we have to do as a city, let alone the things that we’d like to do as a city, let alone the things we really should be doing, like our roads,” he said.


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

More in News

Dream Playground to be fully covered by insurance

The Washington Cities Insurance Authority will reimburse a full… Continue reading

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual Shipwrights Regatta on Port Townsend Bay on Saturday. More of a fun event than a sailing competition, awards are given out during a pizza party afterward for the most navigationally challenged (Directional Helmet trophy) and for the “saltiest” boat and crew. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Shipwrights Regatta

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual… Continue reading

The City of Sequim hosts 13 manufactured home/mobile home parks with 596 existing units and 786 approved dwelling units. City staff continue to look into zoning options that could protect these sites from redevelopment to help protect affordable housing options in the city. (City of Sequim)
Sequim extends its mobile home moratorium

City staff to work preserving manufactured housing option

Olympic Medical Center chief outlines efforts at improvements

Decreased number of travelers among them

Jay and Trudi Inslee wear red for #WearRedDay to support women’s heart health in 2022. (Jay Inslee)
Gov. Inslee reflects in his final year of three terms

On the second level of the white and gray marbled… Continue reading

Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer as coworker Robert Bufford prepares to secure the load as the pair prepares to open the parking lot at Port Angeles City Pier to automobiles on Friday. The work was part of a project to improve storm drainage, replace damaged sidewalks and ADA ramps and mitigate shoreline erosion around the lot, which had been closed since early January. Tree replacement and other project detail work is expected to follow over the next few weeks.
City Pier parking open

Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer… Continue reading

Sequim Citizen of the Year luncheon on Tuesday

Emiko Brock, Labbe, Olsen to be honored

EYE ON THE PENINSULA: Broadband, public health before county boards

Government meetings across North Olympic Peninsula

A pair of Clallam Transit buses sit at The Gateway Transit Center in Port Angeles in preparation for their fixed-route runs on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Clallam Transit sees large rise in ridership

No issues seen with new zero-fare policy

Plans move ahead for Quilcene skate park

Jefferson County, volunteers seek grants

Peninsula College Foundation reports record levels of giving

Programs, students both recipients of funds

County to repave section of Carlsborg Road

Clallam County commissioners will consider awarding a contract for… Continue reading