Omak begins budget talks

City will host workshops starting Tuesday night

— The city has begun its process of hammering out a budget for 2014.

City Council will host a series of budget workshops, starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 2 N. Ash St.

“The 2014 city budget finds the city in a better, albeit not substantially better, position than previous years,” Mayor Cindy Gagne said.

There will also be workshops Nov. 19 and Nov. 25, before the final public hearing on the budget on Dec. 2.

The budget will be approved at the Dec. 16 council meeting.

“We’ve been fortunate that our sales tax revenues in 2013 are exceeding what we expected them to,” City Administrator Ralph Malone said.

Largely due to construction projects, including the sewer renovation project which has been ongoing in town, as well as the Family Health Center and Regency Omak construction projects, the city has received a “windfall” sales tax increase of about $90,000, Malone said.

Malone said it was important to note that those revenue streams will dry up as projects are completed.

“We also are confident they are going to continue in 2014 and so we’re basically projecting those revenues to come in,” he said.

The current budget proposal allocates that “one-time” revenue bump toward deferred capital replacement, he said.

The city had previously deferred replacing police vehicles for two to three years, so some of the increased tax revenue will replace the police vehicles, as well as the 13-year-old command vehicle of the Omak Fire Department and the code enforcement/animal control truck.

Some of the most contentious changes with the city, due to last year’s budget, was the elimination of two police officers.

Although the city has seen an increase in revenue, Malone said it is not likely Omak will be able to bring those positions back in 2014. While sales tax revenue has increased, Malone said much of the revenue sharing from the state has decreased.

The city has estimated revenue for the upcoming year to be about $3,444,784, while expenditures are estimated at $3,783,402.

The city’s ending fund balance is projected to decrease from $1,373,570 to $1,034,952.


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