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City approves budget with no service, staff cuts

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Wenatchee Mayor-elect

WENATCHEE — A spending plan with no major service cuts or layoffs has been set for Wenatchee, but there’s no certainty that it will stick next year.

I think there was more fear than actual cuts in this budget,” Mayor Dennis Johnson said.

The City Council approved the $22.8 million general fund budget Thursday by a 6-1 vote.

But Mayor-elect Frank Kuntz said the fear is not gone with approval of the 2012 budget. Once the city knows what its financial obligations toward the Town Toyota Center will be, painful cuts may still happen next year.

I think city employees and residents of Wenatchee should still be concerned,” he said.

But he said the budget that was passed “is the best they could do.”

After months of speculation that city services would be decimated by the Town Toyota Center debt obligations, the budget has just one layoff of a building maintenance employee. Doom-and-gloom predictions and warnings that firefighters and police would be laid off, a fire station would be closed, the pool and museum could be closed and recreation programs eliminated never materialized in the budget.

The budget earmarks $2.1 million for the Town Toyota Center to cover interest payments on the debt, which the city has made the last two years, plus money for legal expenses.

The budget includes a 1 percent increase in utility taxes and property taxes and a $20 car-tab fee that will take effect in the second half of the year.

But it did not include a new fire inspection fee for businesses.

Johnson said he didn’t expect the council members to like everything in the budget, but said it reflected all the elements they asked for over the last few months.

Councilman Doug Miller cast the lone vote against the budget.

Michelle McNiel: 664-7152

Reach Michelle McNiel at 509-664-7152 or . Follow her on Twitter at @MichelMcNielWW.