Camas council approves ‘austere’ 2011 budget

Staffing levels reduced by 5 percent

The Camas City Council voted unanimously last night to pass its $49.21 million 2011 budget.

The budget reflects cuts that had to be made as a result of a $1.6 million shortfall, which was created in the wake of an estimated 7.6 percent reduction in the city’s assessed value for 2011. A 13 percent ($300,000) increase in the cost of personnel medical benefits also had a significant impact.

Reserve funding has been allocated to cover $800,000 of the gap, and another $650,000 in cuts were trimmed from the budget — with reductions impacting all departments.

“The 2011 budget for the City of Camas retains adequate service for the citizens of Camas in another year of budget distress and economic stress,” said Mayor Paul Dennis in the city’s budget message. “Service levels and city staffing levels will decline; erosion of services and degradation of some facilities such as parks will be noticeable.”

The cuts include $127,400 from administrative departments such as finance, human resources and information technology; $60,000 from recreation; $95,500 from parks maintenance and the cemetery and street funds; $145,500 from police; $49,400 from the library; $99,700 from the community development department; and $111,300 from the fire department.

About $150,000 in reduction measures still need to be completed. Plans call for that to happen through a series of personnel cost reductions including voluntary furloughs, attrition adjustments to the workforce, and employees taking time off instead of cash payouts for holiday time. These are expected to be identified in more detail during the next three months.

The budget includes salaries and benefits for 175 full time equivalent employees. A five percent reduction in staffing levels compared to 2010.

“The reductions are mainly done through attrition, continuing re-organization, consolidation of duties and ‘thinning’ of staffing,” the budget message stated.

During the budget hearing Monday night, Camas resident Margaret Tweet suggested that city employees should shoulder a larger segment of their medical premiums.

As part of the 2011 budget, non-union employees will be paying for 10 percent of their own health care premiums, in addition to continuing to pay a percentage of dependents’ premiums. Negotiations with the city’s five labor groups are currently underway.

Tweet said city union and non-union employees should expect to pay similar amounts for health care as employees in the private sector.

“I would encourage you to consider that norm, and put yourselves in that norm,” she said.

The budget does include monies to fund several capital projects including completion of the second phase of the wastewater treatment plant project, open space acquisitions, portions of the 38th Avenue extension project, as well as street rehabilitation, lighting and water and sewer projects.

The budget is available online at www.ci.camas.wa.us.

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