Washougal council tables budget vote

Discussions regarding animal shelter funding will resume Nov. 29

A Washougal City Council vote on the 2011 budget is not expected to occur anytime before Monday, Dec. 6.

That is also when a public hearing regarding the budget will be continued.

Several supporters of the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society spoke out during last night’s council meeting regarding the potential budget decrease from $25,000 this year to $4,000 in 2011.

“We are working to become self-sufficient, but we’re not there yet,” said Nettie DeRoche.

She introduced several local students who volunteer at the no-kill animal shelter in Washougal.

They include Bailey Burk, an eighth-grader who – along with his family – has spread gravel into potholes near the shelter.

“It is a great cause,” he said.

Burk’s mother Stephanie Burk said with the WCGHS, “animals are offered a second chance, and youth can do their eighth grade and senior projects close to home.”

Joanne Schmidt, of Camas, said she has volunteered at animal shelters in England, Germany and Florida.

“I’m speaking on behalf of the teenagers,” she said. “Keep it local.”

Kimberly Mukobi, president of the WCGHS, said two part-time shelter staff and volunteers perform valuable services by answering calls, taking in animals and find ing homes for them.

Cheryl Comeau applauded the work of dog shelter managers who train dogs so they will be “happy, healthy and safe.” She also mentioned that with the current economy, some local families are giving away their pets to the WCGHS.

“They are grateful there is a no-kill shelter in their community,” Comeau said. “They can continue to walk and play with their dog until it is adopted.”

Stephanie Chamberlain said the WCGHS is doing an “exceptional” job.

“In the economic situation, all shelters are raining cats and dogs,” she said. “They surely need your help.”

Mukobi asked Mayor Sean Guard and City Council members if they could discuss possible alternatives to the budget decrease.

Guard acknowledged the long testimonies provided by shelter supporters and mentioned the budget was not going to be voted on last night.

“I am more than open to suggestions and discussions,” he said.

The $32 million preliminary budget includes $50,000 for economic development efforts with the City of Camas and the Port of Camas-Washougal, and $5,000 for the Columbia River Economic Development Council.

Budget discussions are expected to occur Monday, Nov. 29, at 5:30 p.m., in the council chambers at City Hall, 1701 “C” St.

Utility rate increases are approved

Also last night, the council unanimously approved water rate increases of 13.5 percent, sewer rate increases of 28.5 percent and storm water rate increases of 14.5 percent.

The increases will help pay for construction of the zone 4 water reservoir, as well as pipe improvements, sewer plant expansion and the design phase of storm water capital improvements.

The impact on a homeowner is expected to be a total monthly increase of $12.74, while a large retail establishment could expect to pay an increase of $125.62 per month. The expected increase for a small restaurant would be $27.41 per month.

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