Washougal budget supports social services

New item aims to reduce future feral cat population

The 2014 budget for the city of Washougal includes $7,500 for the East County Family Resource Center.

City Councilman Dave Shoemaker spoke against the “cash subsidy” during the council meeting last night, saying social services should be funded by the county or private sector donations.

“We need to focus our funds on our essential services and infrastructure,” he said.

“Such a mission focus would foster rising property values and the resulting revenue increases we need,” Shoemaker added.

He and councilwoman Connie Jo Freeman had previously expressed concerns about pregnant women being referred by the resource center to health care providers who provide abortions.

Shoemaker’s request last night to delete funding for the resource center was rejected, six votes to one.

“I heard you loud and clear,” Shoemaker said to the other council members, after the vote.

The $34.3 million budget also includes $5,000 for a West Columbia Gorge Humane Society spay and neuter program for cats.

Councilwoman Jennifer McDaniel advocated for the new budget item.

“There are a lot of feral cats in the downtown and low lying areas,” she said.

With a spay and neuter program, there would be fewer abandoned animals, McDaniel added.

Shoemaker said there is a difference between something being a nuisance versus a public safety threat. He mentioned that dogs can maul children, but cats do not maul.

Funding for a feral cat spay and neuter program should come from the private sector and donations, Shoemaker added.

The 2014 budget includes $50,000 for kitchen upgrades in the Washougal Community Center and $160,000 for the reroofing of the center.

Other budget items include:

• $650,000 for property acquisition and park development

• $400,000 (rolled over from 2012) for acquisition of overflow parking for the Sandy Swimming Hole addition, development of parking and a playground

• $60,000 for City Hall/community center facade replacement

*$50,000 for the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association

• $20,000 to repair cracks at Hathaway Park tennis courts. (Three pickleball courts and one tennis court would be painted.)

• $5,000 for city council members’ travel and training expenses

• $12,000 for tuition reimbursement program for city employees

• $5,000 for the Columbia River Economic Development Council

• $5,000 for Washougal Community Education and Recreation

There is a $1.74 million reserved ending fund balance. That equals 16 percent (two months) of expenditures.

The 2014 budget includes a one percent increase in the property tax levy. For the owner of a home with an assessed valuation of $240,000, that would mean an estimated $12 increase in city taxes, compared to this year.