City proposed 2021 budget is $17,498,375

by Richard Uhlhorn

City of Chelan Finance Director Steve Thornton and other staff directors went over the guts to the proposed $17,972,608 2021 budget at a workshop on Tuesday, November 3.

City Finance Director Steve Thornton guided the City Council through his 2021 Proposed Budget at a workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Thornton told the Council members that he was presenting the 2021 budget as a cohesive whole so the Council could understand the City’s budget structure. “By law we budget several different funds,” said Thornton. “There is a lot of great info, but it is pretty dense.”

The City’s proposed budget consists of eight operating funds, five capital funds, one fund incorporating operations and capital equipment repair and replacement, and two debt service funds. The budget packet also contains five year of history.

The proposed 2021 budget includes the following projected Revenues and Expenditures:

  • General Fund                Revenue – $4,500,042              Expenditure – $4,414,626
  • Parks & Recreation                        $3,126,604                                   $3,122,037
  • Street Fund                                    $1,333,779                                   $1,032,405
  • Tourism Promotion                      $1,231,183                                   $1,030,619
  • Housing Fund                                 $     41,000                                   $   230,927
  • Sewer                                            $2,797,500                                $3,053,751
  • Water                                             $2,883,000                                   $2,661,346
  • Sanitation                                       $1,701,000                                   $1,543,550      
  • Equipment Replacement           $   358,000                                   $   409,114

The State of Washington caps Cities at 1% yearly increases in property taxes. This year Chelan will see a $16,219.00 increase in property tax revenue and is projected to be $409,541. New construction will add another $29,539,000 in new construction property values.

Thornton told the Council that the City is watching the Sales Tax revenues pretty hard. “We are still behind in our collections for 2019.” Thornton also stated that the last two months (July & August) were the two highest months the City has ever had. October was also the highest month in the City ever.

Once again, Tourism and Lodging taxes enjoyed the two highest months of lodging tax collections ever. “It was pretty busy.” Short Term Rentals raised $72,000 in taxes. “Tourism and promotion has seen a 2% increase as of the end of September.”

“We’ve has a good year,” exclaimed Thornton.

Parks and Recreation revenues are projected to be $160,602 higher (5.4%) in 2021 compared to 2020. A lot of that increase is because the RV Park will be open for travelers. The RV Park was closed down this year from March through June because of COVID which cost the City considerable revenue. It is already booked out through August 2021.

Thornton explained to the Council that the Community Agencies that have requested funding have not been included in the budget yet. “They could be added tonight or by December 3.”

These agencies included the following:

  • Thrive – $15,000 requested
  • Meals on Wheels – $4,500 requested
  • Lake Chelan Food Bank – $5,000
  • Chelan Valley Hope – $15,000
  • Rotary Club of Lake Chelan – $50,000.00 (Commercial Glass Recyling Machine)

These requests total $89,500.

Councilwoman Erin McCardle asked if the Rotary Club has had any discussion with the County regarding their request. Councilman Ty Witt replied that the request in on their agenda along with the Port of Chelan County and the PUD.

McCardle added that most of the glass is from wine bottles from outside the City. Thornton added that his concern was gifting and worries about what sort of agreement between the Rotary and City would be. McCardle asked, “Will we have another opportunity to discuss these items?” Thornton replied that there would be several opportunities.

Despite COVID issues the Administration Department completed or began a number of major projects, including:

  • Completed an ongoing study of Street Ends and Potential Property Acquisition for Shoreline access (Street Ends Project;
  • Acquired the Spader Bay Property;
  • Completed an agreement with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the PUD for the use of Horsepark;
  • Installed security measures in City Hall reception areas;
  • Continued implementation of electronic records archiving;
  • Added a Facebook Page to better communicate with residents; and
  • All ordinances, resolutions, and minutes from 1902 to the present are now available on the City’s website. This also includes the agenda bills from 1995 to the present are being uploaded.

All of the Council members approved the proposed position of hiring another person to assist the City Clerk in completing the ever growing public records requests. The new employee would also be responsible for updating the City’s website along with archiving City records.

Parks and Recreation Director, Paul Horne, gave a short report on the Park’s proposed budget. Because of the challenges presented by COVID in 2020, the department is entering into 2021 raising fees for the RV Park, the Golf Course, and Golf Cart Rentals which is projected to increase revenues by $160,000.

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth asked if there was any thought to using security services in 2021. “Given the increase in youth visitation, is it something we want to look at budgeting next year,” asked Hollingsworth. Thorne replied that it is not budgeted for 2021, but it might be something to look at. “It was a lot of money.”

Hollingsworth also commented on the garbage collection increases by Public Works at the parks. City Administrator Wade Ferris said there was a possibility to look at a volunteer security force. “Who knows what next year will look like,” he said.

Both Planning & Building Director Craig Gildroy and Public Works Director Jake Youngren ran through their proposed budgets for 2021.

Youngren explained that the City has 40 miles of paved street surfaces and that the Sewer Department charges both the Lake Chelan Sewer District (3%) and Lake Chelan Reclamation District (23 to 24%) for every 1,000 gallons of treated wastewater. “We have 28 miles of gravity sewer and 12 miles of force main in the City.” The Sewer Treatment plant treats 1.3 million gallons of sewage per day.

One of the large looming projects is the City’s Water Treatment Plant expansion. Currently they treat 6.7 million gallons of water per day. “We are going to be seeing a large capital improvement project sooner than we anticipated.”

The City’s next meeting is a Council meeting on Tuesday, November 10, beginning at 6 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend virtually.

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