SEQUIM — Next year, Sequim city residents can expect the completion of the West Fir Street Rehabilitation project, a slight water utility increase and plenty of planning for future projects.
City Council members unanimously approved Sequim’s $37.7 million 2020 budget Monday with a 6-0 vote, with council member Jennifer States excused.
The budget includes a 4 percent increase in water rates and no increase in sewer rates for an average increase of $1.21 per home each month.
Council members also approved the allowed 1 percent property tax levy increase on households, bringing in about $13,000 to $14,000 more each year for the city.
Sue Hagener, Sequim’s director of administrative services, said Monday that Sequim’s combined water/sewer rates per 1,000 cubic feet of usage from 2015 to 2019 rose $5.29, compared to significantly larger increases in Port Angeles and Port Townsend.
“What we’ve done over time is we’ve recommended reasonable and gradual rate increases to accommodate increasing rates in service without these mega-rate increases that affect our customers,” she said.
For this year’s budget, council members approved a 6 percent water increase and a 2 percent sewer rate decrease following a plan to increase utility revenues by 4 percent over the next six years.
A low-income discount continues for qualifying city residents who apply.
Hagener said city staff have a history of coming in under budget related to water and sewer projects.
She said about $232,000 in expenses, or 11 percent, were made in the last four years with water, and about $1 million, or 25 percent, with sewer projects.
“That’s because of the preventative measures and maintenance put into play over the last few years by [Garlington] and his staff,” Hagener said.
Planned projects remained intact through discussions leading up to the 2020 budget approval.
About $3.4 million of the budget goes toward completing repairs of West Fir Street, which tentatively finishes next summer.
City staff budgeted $350,000 for the South Sequim Avenue Complete Streets project to improve a 1.5-mile stretch to connect two Economic Opportunity Areas south of Washington Street.
Some of the many other 2020 projects include:
• $350,000 for completing sidewalks from the Sequim Avenue roundabout between Old Olympic Highway and Hendrickson Road
• $230,000 for citywide pavement rehabilitation and $52,000 for sidewalk repair
• $335,000 for a mechanical odor control filter device at the Water Reclamation Facility
• $303,000 for stormwater treatment upgrade at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Washington street, and to retrofit discharge into Bell Creek from North Brown Road
• $50,000 for a parks impact fee study and $200,000 for right-of-way purchase for future park development
• $816,000 for a new fuel station between the city shop and South Third Avenue
• $100,000 for the Guy Cole Event Center’s meeting room renovation
Next year’s budget includes the equivalent of 85.3 full-time staffers, including a full-time paralegal; a full-time development review engineer; a part-time (0.38) Police Department emergency management coordinator; a part-time, grant-funded intern (0.25), and a recently added temporary Water Reclamation Facility worker (0.5).
Employee totals are up from 82.25 this year and 78.18 in 2018, but Hagener said staffing levels have maintained at about 10.8 to 11 staff per 1,000 residents since 2012.
“We’re keeping our [full-time employees] at manageable levels,” she said.
City Manager Charlie Bush said in the city’s budget message that city staff will continue to cross-train and plan for succession because of retirements, too.
Next year’s health and human service contracts continue with $86,144 proposed going to the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Information Center, $75,000 to human service contracts, $20,000 to the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), $12,000 to Service Fest and $5,000 to the Small Business Development Corporation.
For more about the city’s budget, visit www.sequim wa.gov/886/2020-Proposed-Budget or call 360-683-4139.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].