Camas tax levy rates will not change in 2011

Budget hearing will be held Dec. 6

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Camas property owners will not see an increase in the city’s tax levy rate this year.

Last night the Camas City Council unanimously passed the city’s 2011 general fund levy. The rate will be $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed value — the same as 2010.

Also passed were the 2011 emergency rescue fund levy and library bond levy, both of which are part of packages approved by voters in recent years to fund EMS services, and the construction and renovation of the Camas Public Library (completed in 2003), respectively.

For the EMS levy property owners pay 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, while the library bond is set at 25 cents per $1,000.

While the levy rates stay the same, city officials expect a 7.6 percent decline in property tax revenues in 2011, due to a decease in the city’s assessed value. This created a budget shortfall of an estimated $1.6 million. Reserve funding has been allocated to cover $800,000 of that gap, and in recent weeks another $650,000 in cuts was trimmed from the budget — with reductions impacting all departments.

About $150,000 still needs to be sliced. 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.

The 2011 total proposed budget for all funds is $49.19 million — about $6 million less that in 2010. The city has salaries and benefits for 176.4 full time equivalent employees budgeted.

The 2011 budget includes $50,000 investment in a proposed Economic Development Commission that will work to expand existing businesses and bring new businesses and jobs to the East Clark County area. It also provides a $26,000 contribution to the Columbia River Economic Development Commission.

Funding is earmarked for acquisition projects including purchasing lake front property owned by Georgia-Pacific ($2 million– $1.88 million of which is being funded through grants) and open space purchases ($100,000), as well as replacing the Klickitat Park play structure that was destroyed by fire earlier this year ($35,000), and phase two of the construction of Heritage Park ($20,000). Monies are also available in the budget to purchase library books ($80,000) and to perform road maintenance ($237,524).

Absent from the 2011 budget is funding for the Camas Farmers Market and the Downtown Camas Association.

A public hearing on the 2011 budget will be held Monday, Dec. 6, during the 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall, 616 N.E. Fourth Ave. The proposed budget document is available to the public at City Hall.