Lynden‘s 2015 budget includes 1 percent property tax increase

The City Council has approved a 1 percent property tax increase allowed by state law and will continue to build up its reserves as part of the $10.9 million general fund budget for 2015.

The property tax increase, approved by the council Monday, Dec. 15, is expected to bring in an additional $25,000.

“In my mind, it’s a conservative budget in the fact that we’re continuing to grow our reserves to the 20 percent goal that we have for ourselves,” Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis said. “We’re limiting some spending to keep our reserves going because we were fairly low a few years ago.

“It’s nice to have a 20 percent reserve sitting there for economic downturns,” he added.

The incoming spending plan is more than the $10.7 million in this year’s general fund, which pays for the everyday cost of running the city.

The general fund, part of an overall budget totaling $55.6 million for next year, also includes money from an ambulance utility, which the City Council approved this year to help pay for ambulance services.

The fee, which went into effect this past summer, will be implemented for a full year for the first time in 2015. It’s expected to bring in about $400,000 for the Lynden Fire Department.

City leaders have said they needed new revenue for emergency medical services because the number of EMS calls have grown and the city was moving from a fire department that was fully manned by volunteers to a paid fire department.

As it has in recent years, next year’s budget also includes a 7 percent increase in water utility rates to help pay for the city’s new water treatment plant. The $30 million project is expected to be completed in 2015, with the plant running in mid- to late-summer.

“That will be a big move for the city of Lynden to have a water treatment plant to replace the one that was built over 80 years ago,” Korthuis said.