SEQUIM — The city of Sequim’s $32.7 million budget for next year has received unanimous approval from city council members.
For city residents, that means they wont see an increase in sewer rates, but they’ll receive a 2 percent increase on water rates, which equates to an average of 60 cents per month for most households.
Ratepayers received the same increase last year following the city’s 2013 utility rates study, which proposed an annual increase of 4 percent of both sewer and water rates over six years.
The approval of the 2018 budget came at Monday’s meeting of the city council.
Sue Hagener, Sequim director of administrative services, previously said the 4 percent increase can come from growing accounts, structural changes and/or charging high rates.
Due to structural changes and a growing amount of accounts, sewer rates remain unchanged, she said.
Hagener said one of the structural changes has been to designate adult care facilities as multi-family customers in 2018 for sewer because they’ve been charged as a single facility rather than per unit.
Included in the budget is a 1 percent property tax levy increase on households allowed by law.
Hagener said the increase brings in about $13,000 to $14,000 for the city annually.
Senior citizens 61 and older and disabled residents making $35,000 or less per year are eligible for exemptions.
As for rate changes, general facility charges for new developments will go up by $250 each to water and sewer, too. Water and sewer hook-ups have both gone up by $1,250 since 2014.
The rough-riding stretch of Fir Street from Sequim Avenue to Fifth Avenue might see construction begin as soon as next summer.
City Engineer Matt Klontz said city staff is “aiming to start construction in July. There are still hurdles that must be crossed but our target is July.”
Construction likely will last 18 months, he said.
That includes rebuilding the roadway with new sidewalks, bike lanes, curb and gutter, illumination, and stormwater handling. Irrigation lines will also be repaired.
Klontz said funding comes from multiple components including:
• About $780,000 for the water main from city utility reserves;
• About $929,000 for sewer main and reclaimed water components from a low-interest loan and grant from the state Department of Ecology;
• About $3.8 million for streets and sidewalks with a $3.1 million grant from the state Transportation Improvement Board, about $231,000 from a Safe Routes to School grant and about $473,000 from the city’s Transportation Benefit District.
In total, the city has about $6.9 million slated for capital projects including $72,000 for the Water Reclamation Facility to install a filtering device to control odor, $359,000 to pave the Water Reuse Parking lot using Real Estate Excise Tax dollars, and $61,000 for constructing pickleball courts in Carrie Blake Park.
Staffing and contracts
Next year, city staff anticipated salaries and benefits going up about 5.1 percent to about $8.2 million for 78.18 full-time staff.
The city will add a maintenance worker to oversee the Carlsborg Sewer Project by July 2018, which is paid for by Clallam County.
The Sequim Police Department plans to hire a full-time records specialist too.
Most current staffers will receive a wage increase in 2018 after a majority of staffers received a 1.5 percent wage increase this year.
The non-uniformed bargaining unit (35.5 employees) will receive a 1 percent increase while police sergeants (5 total) will receive a 1.6 percent boost and police officers (13) a 1.5 percent raise. After a wage study, non-represented staff (20.56) might also receive a pay increase.
City staff will continue to contract human services with agencies such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula splitting $75,000 a year, and the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce receiving $81,500 a year, the YMCA of Sequim $30,000 a year, and the Economic Development Council receiving $10,000 through the end of 2018 with a chance for renewal.
For more on the city’s budget, visit www.sequim wa.gov 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.