WENATCHEE — North Wenatchee redevelopment and improvements to several parks and trails make up nearly $37 million of the city’s $107 million 2020 budget.
Other capital projects in the budget include a Confluence Parkway environmental study, renovations to the new City Hall, a remodel of the old City Hall for lease, and many road and sewer projects.
The budget, which the City Council adopted last month, totals about $107 million in expenses and about $81 million in revenue. The general fund is budgeted for about $30 million in expenses and about $28 million in revenue.
Finance Director Brad Posenjak said that revenue figure doesn’t reflect the fact that most capital projects will be paid for with reserves or bond proceeds received this year and last.
“Over the last seven years or so, the general fund has built up a very healthy fund balance,” he said. “Out of the recession, the city really tightened up its spending and its fund balance ended up growing quite a bit. So, now there are a lot of projects and different one-time items that had been put off for many years that the city is now getting around to doing.”
Property taxes increased 13% because of the regular 1% levy increase, new construction and a $300,000 increase for debt payments on the new City Hall remodel. About 72% of property tax collected by the city goes toward streets.
Water and sewer rates also increased 6%.
Posenjak said Wenatchee is on track with its 2020 budget goals:
- Maintain 20-25% balance in the general fund
- Keep recurring expenses and revenues balanced
- Set aside about $3 million for a pavement preservation program
- Ensure money in each account is used only for purposes in that category
- Finance economic development initiatives without reducing the level of service
“By policy we have to have $1 million in our rainy day fund,” Posenjak said. “We now have $1.5 million in the rainy day fund. If we end up having another recession like we did 10 years ago, we’ll be in a much better place to weather that.”
The budget takes into account a new business and occupation sales tax the city is considering on large nonprofit health care providers, specifically Confluence Health. The budget lists revenue from that tax as $300,000, and the money would help pay for three new police officers.
One issue Wenatchee faces is the loss of about $600,000 per year from its $20 car tab fees. Initiative 976, which voters passed last month, would eliminate those fees, which the city puts toward pavement preservation projects.
“There is a ... $4.7 million pavement project that is scheduled for 2020, but we are actually going to be in discussions with the council over the next couple weeks to determine if they want to keep with that program,” Posenjak said.
The East Wenatchee City Council is set to vote on an approximately $20 million budget Tuesday.