FERNDALE - The City Council has decided against increasing the solid waste and utility taxes but will still fund an additional police officer, a new water and sewer plant operator, and four nonprofits.
A public hearing on Ferndale's 2013 budget will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3. Council is expected to approve the budget that same evening.
The police officer, which would bring the force up to the 18 officers recommended for a city of Ferndale's size, will be paid for in part with a 3 percent increase in property tax revenue the council approved Nov. 5. The tax increase will raise $65,000 a year.
The city will use a small budget surplus to cover the rest of the officer's first-year cost. The new hire is expected in March and will cost $95,000 plus equipment in 2013, Finance Director Mark Peterson said.
A fourth operator for the treatment plants has been on the Public Works Department's wish list since 1998, department Director Janice Marlega said.
Council agreed on Monday, Nov. 19, that the time was right to expand staffing at the two plants. The three current operators can't cover all shifts without significant overtime costs. Even with a new operator, the facilities won't be fully staffed, Marlega said.
Also, the water and sewer fund is healthy, with a surplus of $100,000 that will cover just about all of the first-year costs of the new hire. Some capital improvement projects will be delayed, and a water-rate increase beyond the annual cost of living adjustment will be considered in 2015, Peterson said.
Council members might ask voters to approve a 1-cent-per-gallon fuel tax to fund road maintenance, but that measure wouldn't go on the ballot until August or November 2013. Council put off further discussion of that tax until April.
The city has enough money budgeted for next year to pay four nonprofits to provide their services in the city. Funds were distributed as follows to groups that were also funded in 2012:
- Senior Center, $4,500.
- Ferndale Food Bank, $3,600.
- Domestic violence services, $2,700.
- Northwest Youth Services, $2,250.
Two groups funded this year did not make the list for 2013. The Center for Economic Vitality has closed, and the Ferndale Community Service Cooperative asked for $7,800 for next year after receiving $7,000 this year, in what the cooperative said would be a one-time-only request, Mayor Gary Jensen said.
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2298.