News

Council adopts budget

By Kevin Hanson

The Courier-Herald

Meeting for the final time in 2005, members of the Enumclaw City Council last week approved a spending plan for the year to come totaling a bit more than $43.2 million.

Looking to make ends meet in 2006, council members approved rate increases in every utility fund and bumped the city's property tax rate by 5.5 percent. That latter element brought two dissenting votes from the council, as both Sean Krebs and Glen Jensen objected to the level of the increase.

The 2006 budget will bring no new employees to the city ranks, although one position is being expanded. A half-time planner's position is being increased to full-time status.

The biggest public works project, aside from the ongoing expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, will be the reconstruction of a section of Warner Avenue. The stretch between Blake and Watson streets, a rim-rattling experience for motorists, will be smoothed out at a cost of about $800,000.

Warner Avenue is the southern city boundary, with the entire roadway belonging to the city. Because it serves county residents, Enumclaw has twice asked King County to help pay for improvements; for the second year, the county refused.

The general fund portion of the budget - which pays for police and fire protection, among other things - accounts for $8.4 million of the 2006 budget. Other major elements of next year's spending plan include $6.7 million in the natural gas utility; more than $5 million each in the water and sewer utilities; and more than $1.7 million in the solid waste utility. Utilities are deemed “enterprise” funds and must be self-supporting.

At a previous meeting, council members had voted to increase water and sewer rates. Last week, it was time to look at garbage collection fees, including the amount charged for hauling away yard waste. Council members had studied garbage rates for a couple of weeks and, in the final hour, accepted a new option that decreased garbage rates from earlier recommendations.

Residents paying the “one can” rate have been charged $14.72 monthly (without tax) in 2005 and will see their monthly charge slide to $14.95 effective Jan. 1.

In other action during their Dec. 12 meeting, council members:

€ Announced there will be a public hearing during the regularly-scheduled council meeting of Jan. 23 regarding the tourism and marketing plan proposed by a paid consultant. The meeting gets under way at 7:30 p.m. The hearing will address the suggestion that Enumclaw adopt an equestrian theme and position itself as the “equestrian center of the Pacific Northwest.” Council is not expected to act on the recommendation that night.

€ Approved the spending of nearly $50,000 for unanticipated repairs to the city-owned swimming pool. Shortly before the pool was closed for an extensive upgrade, a section of tiles fell from the side of the pool.

€ Approved the appointment of Jerry Metcalf to the Civil Service Commission and Knut Harjo to the Planning Commission and OK'd the reappointment of Annette Johnson to the Cemetery Board, Claudia Graham to the Human Services Advisory Board, JoAn McKinlay to the Library Board, Jana Thomas and Wyatt Lawlis to the Park Board and Pat Fisk and Rita Sand-Voss to the Arts Commission.

€ Canceled its final gathering of 2005, which would be Monday evening according to the normal meeting schedule.

€ Said goodbye to outgoing council members Sean Krebs and Jennifer Krebs.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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