The City of Bremerton hosted its first 2014 budget workshop Monday night.
The mayor and each department director gave brief presentations but fielded no questions. Additional workshops, in which questions from the council will be fielded, are Oct. 15 and 17. If extra meetings are needed, those will be Oct. 21 and Oct. 22. Public hearings will follow.
By law, a budget must be adopted no later than Nov. 1.
The proposed $90,501,419 budget includes a general fund of $34,311,740, a .51 percent increase from 2013. The vast majority, at 62.78 percent, of general fund dollars support public safety. The budget includes the reorganization of an unfunded police sergeant’s position to a funded police officer position, but otherwise maintains police and fire staffing levels.
Financial Services Director Becky Hasart told the council that the general fund balance, or reserve, meets the council’s 8.5 percent target and is tentatively budgeted to finish at 10.61 percent; the utility operations and maintenance ending fund balance meets the 12 percent target; and the budget includes a $50,000 transfer to the contingency reserve fund.
Mayor Patty Lent and Hasart said that the proposed budget, which relies on estimates since not all property tax assessments have been received from Kitsap County, meets many of the city council’s goals to include the following:
• The budget freezes the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) utility fees to the general fund at 2013 levels.
• The budget also includes a $250,000 transfer from the general fund to support operations and maintenance of streets, striping, crosswalk and curb improvements. It also includes a $20,000 transfer from Real Estate Excise Taxes (REET) and an additional $5,000 from general street revenue for projects and includes $80,000 for sidewalk maintenance.
• In addition, the budget includes half the cost for a city-wide tree inventory, the rest of which will come out of the parks department which will see a $172,135 increase in funding from 2013. Some of that include playground equipment replacement and $40,000 for improvements to Pendergast Field.
• The budget reflects a reorganization of the Department of Community Development to better handle ongoing annexation efforts and a comprehensive plan update and adds $13,000 to the financial services department for temporary help in implementing the city’s new landlord registration ordinance.
• The city will continue its support payments to the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, at a cost of $15,000, and the Kitsap Aerospace and Defense Alliance, at a cost of $7,500.
The budget accommodates the Business and Occupation (B&O) tax exempt level increase from $80,000 to $100,000. That means businesses that don’t make more than $100,000 annually don’t have to pay B&O taxes.
Lastly, the budget includes $20,000 to redevelop the city’s website to explore the possibility of using Facebook.