Sequim goes into 2022 with $31.7 million balanced budget

No utility or property tax rates passed by council

SEQUIM — Sequim City Council members approved a 2022 budget set at $31.7 million with no tax increases.

That includes no water or sewer rate increases in 2022, and the 1 percent property tax levy allowed by law will not be implemented on homeowners.

The budget passed Nov. 22 by a vote of 5-2, with Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell and Rachel Anderson opposed.

Some council members, including Mayor William Armacost, expressed frustration with city staff that an ordinance to rescind a March 22 decision to raise future council members’ pay wasn’t prepared for the meeting. Armacost made a motion anyway, and, in a 4-3 vote, the council agreed to rescind the raises.

New City Manager Matt Huish said city staff did not intend to keep the ordinance off the meeting agenda.

In 2022, the capital projects budget is about $2 million less than this year, dropped from $6 million to $4 million. Sarah VanAusdle, interim public works director, said in a phone interview that staff are trying to “be realistic.”

She said, “We’ve been short staffed, so we’re taking that into account.”

One project includes a $540,000 payment (85 percent of that from a grant) to Lakeside Industries for an overlay on West Washington Street from River Road to Ninth Avenue starting in the spring.

Another project to improve the North Sequim Avenue roundabout and install a sidewalk on the west side of North Sequim Avenue from the roundabout to Hendrickson Road comes at an estimated cost of $400,000 — including $181,000 from a Safe Route to School grant — with construction expected to start sometime in 2022.

VanAusdle said city staff continue to identify the needs in city parks, including $50,000 toward new playground equipment for toddlers at Margaret Kirner Park and Carrie Blake Community Park.

“We’re waiting for the Parks Master Plan to be completed (with tentative adoption before March 1) and then we’ll be eligible for grants,” she said.

“Playground equipment is in need of replacement, and it’s very expensive.”

City staffing is expected to increase to 89.21 full-time-equivalent staffers per 1,000 residents with salaries and benefits at an approximate $10.4 million.

The budget does not include a previously proposed $8,000 for Sequim School District’s care closet program.

Council member Brandon Janisse proposed the funds on Nov. 8 go to Sequim School District’s Care Closet program, which includes providing hygiene products, clothes, toiletries and more to any and all students.

It was not moved forward by council nor voted on.

A few council members objected, with Mike Pence wanting to know if it was legal to fund a school district program through the city.

Sue Hagener, director of administrative services, said the city requires a contract before disbursing funds to any agency and that all current contracts with service agencies, such as the Boys & Girls Club of the Olympic Peninsula, go before council for periodic review.

Pence said he doesn’t think funding the care closet program seems appropriate, that the city spends too much on health and human service contracts, and the city should review the contracts individually.

“One agency is teaching critical race theory, and I don’t think we should be funding that,” Pence said; he did not clarify which agency.

Council member Keith Larkin agreed they need to review the contracts more because “we tend to fund things and tend to forget about them.”

Hagener said on Nov. 22 that contingency dollars could support the program through a contract, if needed, but Janisse said he’s planning a different route to support the program.

Next year, the city supports health and human service contracts at $75,000, and community services contracts and economic development contracts at $30,000 each.

For more about the City of Sequim’s 2022 budget, visit ​​www.tinyurl.com/PDN-ProposedBudget.

Sequim City Council next meets in a virtual meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 13.

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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 mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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